27 Jul33% of English 11-Year-Olds Cannot Swim

Swim England poll of 1,000 parents highlights how one in three 11-year-olds are unable to swim 25 metres or more

Bristol North Baths swim image by Paul Townsend (Creative Commons License: Attribution-Some Rights Reserved).

Swimming lessons – and swimming baths – have changed dramatically since this photograph of Bristol North Baths was taken. Image by Paul Townsend (Creative Commons License: Attribution-Some Rights Reserved).

Swimming is both an important life skill and an enjoyable sporting activity. We at Swim and Leisure Supplies cannot fail to be inspired by swimmers who devote their time to the sport professionally or semi-professionally. Especially those who pick up medals from the Commonwealth Games and the modern Olympic Games. They would think nothing of swimming 25 metres.

In England, a recent study by Swim England found that almost one in three 11-year-olds cannot swim up to 25 metres. According to the National Curriculum, all primary school pupils should be expected to swim 25 metres as a bare minimum. It was found that only 36% of primary schools reached this target.

For several years, swimming has been a core part of any school child’s curriculum. If they take swimming up as a competitive sport or a recreational hobby, friendships can be made with fellow swimmers. They might join a local swimming club and, if they reach their full potential, could be a future Olympic Gold Medallist.

Steve Parry, from Swim England said: “Water safety is the only part of the national curriculum that will save children’s lives, it can’t be treated as an optional extra.” Alarmingly, in the same survey, it was said by 63% of parents that their child cannot save themselves in the water, when they come to grief.

A contributory factor to these findings is the closure of swimming baths, thanks to cuts in local government funding. This has seen fewer, yet larger leisure centres in some towns for the whole borough, in place of a public baths in each town. Over the last forty years in England and Wales, local authorities have had to cede direct control of their facilities to arms-length companies or trusts. Some have been privatised, sold off for housing developments, or converted into non-swimming based leisure centres.

Swim and Leisure Supplies, 27 July 2017.

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