Learn To Swim Safe

Swim Safe is a fun and free water safety activity for children, founded by the RNLI and Swim England.

Three children having fun in the sea with a Swim Safe instructor in Boscombe, Dorset

Every year, RNLI lifeguards 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 reach children with vital information before they might need to be rescued.

Swim Safe teaches children aged 7-14 essential water safety skills through a fun session delivered by trained instructors.

Children learn where is safe to swim, how to float, what to do if something goes wrong and how to call for help if someone else is in trouble.

We want all children to have access to this training, so all Swim Safe sessions are free.

We’re working with the national governing bodies for swimming in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, along with a range of local partners, to make the sessions accessible to more children around the UK.

Since 2013, we’ve reached over 30,000 children in the UK through Swim Safe. This year, we’ve expanded the programme to nearly 30 coastal and inland locations.

We want every child to have access to a free Swim Safe session so they have the opportunity to learn the skills to help them stay safe in and around open water.

So please join us this year by signing up for a session and sharing information about Swim Safe with others.

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:

  • Beach 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 25 metres. This is usually achieved around Learn to Swim Stage 6 of Swim England's Learn to Swim Programme.

A parent or guardian must be present throughout the session. 

Book a session

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 the activity. 

Please make sure your child is wearing the appropriate level of suncream. This should be applied at least half an 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 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, T-shirt and swimming badge.
How do I book my child onto a session?
Book here.
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?

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

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 swimsafe@swimming.org.