Learn To Swim Safe

Swim Safe is a fun and free water safety activity for children created by Swim England and the RNLI that takes place in the summer.

A young girl taking part in Swim Safe a water safety session jumps into West Reservoir in Stoke Newington, London

What's included?

Children get to enjoy a fun, structured swimming session at a choice of open water locations – and learn all about how to stay safe.

The 60-minute session is run by qualified lifeguards and instructors, and includes:

  • Water safety advice provided by qualified lifeguards on land.
  • Up to 30 minutes in-water tuition with qualified instructors.
  • All the right kit for swimming outdoors (including swimming hats, wetsuits, and swimming aids).

Who can attend?

Swim Safe is open to children aged 7-14.

To take part, they must be able to swim a minimum of 25m.

This is usually achieved around Stage 6 of Swim England's Learn to Swim Pathway.

A parent, guardian or teacher must be present throughout the session.

To register your interest in Swim Safe, fill in our online form on the Swim England website.

Why is Swim Safe needed?

Every year, RNLI lifeguards and lifeboats race to the rescue of children and adults who find themselves in difficulty in and near the water.

In 2013, Swim England (the national governing body for swimming in England) and the RNLI (the charity that saves lives at sea) launched Swim Safe to help children learn how to stay safe in and around open water before they might need to be rescued.

Swim England and the RNLI work closely with Swim Wales and a range of local delivery partners to make Swim Safe available to as many children as possible, whether they live by the coast, inland and in our cities.

Since launching with a single site in 2013, Swim Safe has grown to include more than 30 sites across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. 

We'd love to run it in more locations, so please get in touch if you would like to help us deliver Swim Safe. Work with us

Frequently asked questions

Want to know more? Find the answers to some of the most common questions we're asked about Swim Safe.
How much are the sessions? 
All sessions are completely free.
Do I need to provide a wetsuit for my child?

No, wetsuits are provided on site, however if your child has a wetsuit and would prefer to use their own then please bring it along. Please note it must be a full-length, well-fitting wetsuit of appropriate thickness. Swim Safe site coordinators may ask you to use a Swim Safe wetsuit if this is not the case. This is for the safety of the group.

What do I need to bring? 

Your child will need: 

  • swimwear (preferably already on, under clothes)
  • a towel for after the water-based activity. 

Please make sure your child is wearing the appropriate level of suncream. This should be applied at least half and hour before the session and rubbed in well.

A wetsuit, rash vest and swimming cap will all be provided on the day

My child is under 7 years old but can swim 25m unaided. Can they join?

Swim Safe sessions are designed for children aged 7-14 who can swim a minimum of 25m unaided.

Younger siblings may be able to join in with lifeguard messaging activities on the day, but will not be able to take part in the water-based activities.

My child is aged between 7 and 14 years old but cannot swim 25m unaided. Can they still take part?

Swim Safe sessions are designed for children aged between 7 and 14 years old who can swim a minimum of 25m unaided.

Children who are less competent swimmers can join in with lifeguard messaging activities on the day, but will not be able to take part in the water-based activities.

Can I book my child onto more than one session?

We're hoping your child will learn to stay safe in one Swim Safe session. We'd like to make sure we're giving these vital skills to as many children as possible.  So we only allow you to make one booking per child at a time. If, after the session, your child would like to come again, they can book a new session.

How long are the Swim Safe sessions?

Each session takes around 60 minutes – this is a mixture of land-based and in-water tuition.

The group will be in the water for approximately 30 minutes.

Will the sessions still run in bad weather – and what happens if a session is cancelled?

Each day a risk assessment will take place. If the weather or water conditions make the session unsafe, we will cancel it.

We’ll advise all registered participants by email, so please check the inbox of the email you registered with before setting off for your Swim Safe session. We’ll try to text or phone, but this may not be possible at every location.

Does my child receive anything for taking part?
Yes. Each child will receive a Swim Safe swimming hat and swimming badge.
How do I book my child onto a session?

Swim Safe takes place during the summer from May to September. To be one of the first to know about next season's sessions, register your interest on the Swim England website.

During the summer, available sessions will be shown on this page 6 weeks before they are due to start. If no sessions show in that time they are currently fully booked. Please check back again for availability and cancellations.

Can I book a group in to participate in a session?

Yes, groups can be booked too. 

Please make sure to pre-book your group so that we can accommodate everyone in the same session.

Can I turn up to take part on the day?

There might be some spots available to people who turn up on the day but to avoid disappointment, we recommend you book in advance so you can be sure your child will have a space.  

How can I leave feedback on the programme?

Feedback can be given on the day to the site coordinator.

If you want to give feedback after the event then please send it to [email protected].