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School teachers highlight importance of Water Competence

Swimming, Diving, Artistic Swimming , Water Polo, Education

School swimming is playing an increasingly important role in teaching children the skills that could potentially save lives. The latest data from Swim England revealed that 96 percent of seven to 11 year-olds cannot swim 100 metres or tread water for 30 seconds, leaving our children at risk of the dangers of waterways across the country.

This Get Into Learn to Swim Week, we’re promoting the importance of being Water Competent, which involves being able to anticipate, avoid, and survive common drowning situations, the ability to recognise and aid those in need and being able to participate safely and enjoy a range of activities in, on and around the water.

School teachers witness first-hand the positive impact aquatics can have on a child’s physical and mental wellbeing. And Sonja Groves, of Coastlands CP School in Haverfordwest, believes school swimming should be given priority to ensure children can develop water competence.

“All experiences are positive,” she said. “We have had pupils who struggled with water confidence overcome fears which has then given them emotional resilience to face other situations where they feel uncertain.

“Some of our pupils have developed a lifelong love of swimming from starting their swimming journey in school and have developed their skills to a competitive level.

“By making sure that swimming takes place throughout the year it is given high status and the children understand that this is to ensure their safety as well as develop their physical fitness levels.

“The positive impact on swimming for well-being must also be stressed. Pupils feel a sense of pride when they reach new levels in their abilities. The feel-good factor of exercise also promotes well-being.”

Alyson Underhill-Jones, from St. David’s CiW Primary in Cardiff believes school swimming can open the door for those children who have, and continue to face barriers to aquatic activity.

“It is very important to teach the children water safety,” she said. “Our school is not in an affluent area of Cardiff where parents will often take their children swimming or will take to swimming lessons.  Lots of our children haven’t been in a pool before their swimming lessons in school. Lots of our parents do not dive also.  Our local pool was shut due to Covid and has not reopened so the opportunity for them to go there has not existed for a couple of years now unfortunately. 

We would most definitely endorse aquatic experiences to other education professionals. The confidence our children have gained by attending swimming sessions through school have been enormous. We have had children who cannot swim a stroke go to swim a whole length by the end of the sessions. It is paramount that children gain the knowledge and skills of being safe around water at a young age.”