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Learn to Swim Wales

Learn to Swim Wales

Learn to Swim Wales is a nationally recommended programme for the delivery of Learn to Swim lessons. The framework covers vital skills required for participation in aquatic activities and disciplines.

Learn to Swim Framework

Learn to Swim Wales Framework aims to ensure that every child can learn to swim, regardless of any differential factors or circumstances. Every child can have the opportunity to choose aquatic activities as a part of a healthy lifestyle. 

While the basic principles of teaching children how to swim are the same as ever, the world in which our children are growing up has changed. Swimming lessons have to compete with the ever-increasing choice of activities and entertainments presented to our children. Children need to see swimming, and particularly swimming lessons, as a fun thing to do.

“Every Child A Swimmer”. This is a huge challenge but it’s one to which Swim Wales, Sport Wales, the Welsh Government and Local Authorities are fully committed. In Learn to Swim Wales, Swim Wales has created the crucial mix of characteristics that will help deliver that goal.

Learn to Swim Wales formalises national standards and methodologies for the teaching of swimming to children throughout Wales.

‘Learning Through Play’ is the foundation of Learn to Swim Wales. Lessons include fun activities and games in the pool, and can be adapted to help all children achieve their potential.

As children get close to becoming competent swimmers, they are encouraged to consider other aquatic disciplines, such as water polo, diving, synchronised swimming and the RLSS Rookie Lifeguard Programme. 

As part of Swim Wales’s commitment to the UK Drowning Prevention Strategy (ensuring that all children growing up in Wales are safe in and around water), there are numerous water safety and self rescue assessment outcomes included in the programme. These are to ensure that children have the necessary skills and knowledge enabling them to have fun and be safe when they are in and around water.

Teachers are well informed about the structure of the Learn to Swim Scheme and have access to resources, including video clips, guides and worksheets that can help their delivery on poolside to be more effective

The 4 Sections of Learn to Swim Wales


The foundation and introduction to the aquatic environment, aimed at adults and children, and children independently developing skills in the water. This section is aimed at children between 4 months to 3 years plus.


The main ‘Learn to Swim’ area. Children from age 4 are taught the necessary swimming and aquatic skills to swim and to take part in other aquatic activities such as water polo. They also are taught vital water safety skills so that they learn how to be safe in and around water.

Additional Skills

There are 3 complementary award criteria that teachers could award to children in recognition of progress and achievement. These include distance awards (starting from 5 metres through to 5000 metres), Personal Survival and Swim Challenge awards that complement the delivery of Waves 5, 6 and 7.


This section of the pathway breaks into the various aquatic disciplines of swimming, water polo, diving, synchronised swimming and life saving. Skills taught in the Waves are progressed and developed with specific emphasis on being discipline specific. These classes can either be delivered in a Learn to Swim programme or at the introductory section of clubs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long will it take for my child to learn to swim?

    Like learning any new skill, different people take different amounts of time. If your child experiences more time in the swimming pool environment outside of lessons, they are likely to progress more quickly as they will have additional opportunities to practice and increase their confidence surrounded by close friends and family. It is recommended that each centre records the date that a swimmer starts each Wave and, if necessary, identifies ways to support swimmer that are in any one Wave for longer than 40 weeks.

  • Where can my child learn to swim

    To find your nearest Learn to Swim Wales and Aqua Passport providers via our Find a Swim School link

  • How much will it cost me to book my child into swimming lessons?

    The price of lessons will vary by provider, and will depend on whether you book group, small group or 1:1 lessons. Some providers organise their programme in blocks of lessons, ranging from school terms to 8-2 weeks blocks. Increasing numbers of providers are now offering continuous programmes running 50 weeks of the year and payable by Direct Debit.

  • What if my child cries or is afraid?

    This is very common when starting something new. All teachers will be trained to deal with the most fearful of students and there will always be someone on hand to assist. We recommend the use of simple distraction techniques: toys, songs and games to help calm and reassure them. We will never dunk a new swimmer under the water! A child may cry for several weeks in a row, but be patient. Consistency and praise are key to your child's progress. If you need help getting your child into the pool, please ask our staff for assistance. Be sure to give us any information that will help us get to know your child better (favourite toys, special songs, heroes, etc). We recommend that you take your child to the pool where they are having lessons before their first lesson so that they are familiar with the environment. The more often you can take them to the pool, the easier they will find the transition into learning new skills.

  • What if my child is unwell?

    Use your best judgment, but if your child has flu-like symptoms such as a fever, vomiting or has stomach or digestion problems, do not bring them to class. If they have a runny nose or a cough, coming to class could actually be good for them.

  • Why should I look for a Swim Wales accredited provider?

    Every Swim Wales accredited programme is offering the best way to learn how to swim. The programme will deliver quality lessons based on Learn to Swim Wales, delivered by fully qualified teachers in a safe and appropriate environment.

  • What qualifications should a teacher have?

    All swimming teachers working in a Learn to Swim programme should hold a recognised qualification. Ideally teachers will hold the ASA Level Two Aquatic Teaching certificate which enables an individual to deliver a lesson unsupervised, or they will hold the ASA Level One Aquatic Teaching certificate where they deliver sessions under the direct supervision of an individual with a Level Two certificate. All teachers are subject to an enhanced DBS disclosure according to current legislation and should attend Safeguarding and Protecting Children and Young people training every three years.

  • How will my child’s progress be assessed and rewarded?

    The Learn to Swim Wales outcomes should be continually assessed as your child attends lessons. Ideally there should not be a final assessment. However, to progress into the next level, all outcomes need to be achieved competently and consistently. As your child progresses through the programme their achievements will be rewarded with different awards: badges, certificates and - depending on your organisation - progressive online interaction (if your lesson provider is part of the Online Interactive Aqua Passport programme). Depending on the organisation, they may choose to implement other rewards to acknowledge achievements, to enhance the experience of your child, and to increase motivation and confidence.

  • Why does my child need to be considered to be a safe swimmer?

    Ensuring your child learns to swim at an early age not only provides endless health and social benefits, but could one day save their life. Sadly, drowning is still the third most common form of accidental death in children. Learning to swim really is an essential life skill.
    The great thing about swimming is that children of any age, size or ability can take part. Swimming is more accessible to children with disabilities than most other sports.

    Learning to swim has plenty of benefits for children of all ages and abilities:

    • Swimming keeps your child’s heart and lungs healthy, improves their strengths and flexibility, increases their stamina and even improves their balance and posture
    • It gives your child more opportunities to make friends and gain confidence
    • Swimming opens the door to countless other sports and activities, including swimming with dolphins, scuba diving in exotic locations, rowing and sailing or even becoming the next Olympic champion
    • It is a skill for life that once learned is rarely forgotten (there are even events for swimmers aged over 100!)
    • And it can provide useful challenges for your child as they develop

    Swimming is currently part of the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum in Wales. According to the current National Curriculum, “pupils should be taught to develop skills of water safety and personal survival and swim unaided for a sustained period of time”. Swim Wales, with the support of education advisors and local providers, have agreed that to be considered a safe swimmer a child will be able to:

    • Swim 25 metres with clothes on
    • Tread water for 30 seconds
    • Demonstrate an action to attract help and move into the HELP (Heat Escape Lessening Position)
    • Demonstrate a shout and signal action

  • My child has a disability. Can they take part in these lessons?

    The aim of Learn to Swim Wales is to ensure that all swimmers, regardless of ability or disability, are taught the fundamental aquatic skills that they can take forward into whatever area of aquatics they wish to pursue. Our pathway will make sure that swimmers with a disability are fully integrated and sessions are adapted if/when required. It should be recognised that some children may never be able to achieve all outcomes, so it is important that appropriate exit routes are identified for these swimmers and that they are progressed through the pathway according to their individual needs.

  • How early should my child learn to swim?

    The Department of Health recommends that you can take your baby swimming from a very young age. You can take your baby swimming at any age, both before and after they have been vaccinated (there is no need to wait until they have been vaccinated). It doesn't matter if they haven't yet completed their course of vaccinations. The management of some leisure facilities may suggest that babies shouldn't go swimming until they have had all of their jabs. But this advice probably dates back to when polio was common. There hasn’t been a case of polio reported in the UK for over 10 years. If you choose to immunise your child, it is recommended that a baby completes their recommended immunisations before they are introduced to a swimming pool environment. The earlier that a child experiences being in and around water, the easier they will find it to develop their aquatic skills. Once a baby developed their skills, they can continue to access swimming for the rest of their life.

  • Why choose Learn to Swim Wales?

    By choosing the Learn to Swim Wales Scheme, providers and parents can expect a varied programme and enhanced sessions to keep children engaged. LTSW is a nationally-recognised programme designed by industry experts covering all ages and abilities. The pathway incorporates all the aquatic disciplines and widens opportunities available for children.

Find a Learn to Swim School in your area

To find your local swim school offering the Learn to Swim Wales Framework, follow the link

Click Here