Did you know that despite the national curriculum in England stating that all schools must teach children to swim a distance of 25 meters confidently, still 57% of UK 7-11 year olds cannot swim. Sadly it's not a requirement in Scotland and the government have just ended the funding scheme for swimming lessons for primary school children there.
My daughter has been attending swimming lessons for several years now. She's doing the AquaEd scheme and is currently at stage 5. Going through the progression stages, she's really built up her skills and confidence in the water - right from when she was small and did activities such as blowing bubbles, designed to get children used to putting their heads in the water. Now she's busy perfecting her butterfly stroke!
Now in Year 2 at school she also does weekly lessons with her class. We're lucky that we have a leisure centre a short walk away and I know not everyone has access to these facilities. It can also be expensive to attend lessons and for some families time constrains are an issue. But still I find it interesting that some many children manage to attend extra-curricular activities such as football, ballet and gymnastics, yet they don't learn to swim. Sure, all sports are good for fitness, and in some you learn various skills such as team work, but only swimming can save your life. When was the last time anyone had to kick a ball into a net to save their life?
Swimming is not just a great exercise, it's a life-skill and a life-saving skill. Of the 30 children in Ruby's class, I estimate that just over half are in the 'beginner' or 'non-swimmer' group at the pool which is in line with the above statistic.
It is estimated that children require at least 25 hours of lessons to swim confidently a distance of 25 metres. Primary schools are offered 18 hours of swimming lessons per child a year, way below the recommended hours. If hours were raised to 25 across all primary schools as standard the number of children who can swim would rise by 200,000. The Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) suggest that swimming should come under the physical education budget and be taught as a requirement much like any other subject.
As a parent, what can you do to help? Well, Swimshop have come up with some great activities and games aimed at raising confidence levels in the pool. You can download them free here and they also have a range of floats and swimming aids to help young learners in the pool.
This year for the first time ever we're going on holiday to a villa with it's own pool. I know that Ruby is going to have so much fun swimming in it, and I'm sure her strokes are going to come on quickly spending so much time in the water. Conversely, if she hadn't learnt to swim I know I'd have been terrified and wouldn't have been able to relax for worrying about her falling into the pool or getting up early playing in the pool without us. It's definitely one of the best things she's ever learnt.
Swimshop are offering 2 lucky readers the chance to win a pair of armbands and a fun design float as featured in the image at the top of this post. You can choose from the shark design or the polly fish float, and the armbands are available in either ages 1-3 or 3-12.
For your chance to win simply complete the rafflecopter below.
The giveaway is open to UK residents only and will close at midnight on Sunday 5th July 2015. Two winners will be chosen at random and will be sent a pair of armbands and a float of their choice. In the event of any items being out of stock, Swimshop reserve the right to replace it with another alternative of similar value. The prize will be supplied and dispatched by Swimshop who have kindly offered the prizes.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: I was sent a float as a thank you for promoting this campaign.