When I made public my vision that all children are able to swim 25 metres by the time they leave primary school, I knew from day one that it’s going to be a long hard battle to achieve my vision. Today’s revelations through the ASA 2013 School Swimming Census show just how much work there is to be done.
Some of the statistics are startling. 51% of children aged 7-11 years cannot swim 25 metres unaided. 39% of children are not taking any type of swimming lessons. On average each child only receives 8 hrs 15 minutes of school swimming tuition – well below the 22hrs the Government recommends each child should receive.
With drowning the third most common cause of accidental death of children in England, so much more needs to be done to reverse these awful statistics. The Government has ring-fenced a considerable budget for PE and School Sport and that could certainly make a significant difference in ensuring every child has the opportunity to swim 25 metres. There also needs to be a far greater willingness from parents and schools to view swimming as a life skill.
I don’t necessarily see my role being to lobby Government to invest more money on swimming education programmes, though of course if that helped I’d be willing to do so. I want to work hard convincing parents to take their children to swimming pools and get them into classes. I also want to ensure that learning to swim is fun so children want to come back again and again because they enjoy it, while parents see the life skill that learning to swim is providing.