RNLI And ASA Launch Swim Safe Campaign

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) have launched and joint open water safety initiative, Swim Safe.

Figures have revealed that one in five children have gotten into difficulty while swimming in open waters. The figures shows that 43% of parents believe that if their child can swim in a pool, they will be safe in the sea, and one in eight parents (9%) admit they don’t always supervise their children when they are in the sea or open water. 

Now in its third year, the Swim Safe initiative gives young people aged between seven and 14-years-old the opportunity to learn about the differences between swimming in a pool and the challenges of swimming in an open water environment.

Jon Glenn, Head of Learn to Swim at the ASA, said: "Swimming in the sea or in lakes is great fun, especially when you are on your summer holidays, but it is also a lot different to swimming in a pool. 

"Open water can be very unpredictable; even calm, shallow waters can quickly become dangerous, so it is essential that both children and parents know how to stay safe. 

"The findings from our survey show that while many parents are very knowledgeable about the potential risks, there is still a lack of awareness about how water temperature can impact on a young person’s swimming ability. The results also showed that parents don’t always supervise their children, which is a particular worry.

"That’s why as part of this year’s Swim Safe programme we have also provided specific information to remind parents of the need to supervise their children while they are out swimming or playing in the water, and who to call on for help if required (3)." 

Pip Hare, RNLI Coastal Safety Manager, said: "Combining the water safety knowledge of RNLI lifeguards with the expertise of ASA swimming teachers allows us to provide children with the skills and knowledge they need to keep safe in open water.  

"We’re lucky to have some fantastic stretches of coastline and beautiful inland waterways in and around the UK, and the summer holidays are a great time to explore them. However, we urge families to always swim at a lifeguarded area and remember that, although the weather may be hot, any stretch of open water can still be very cold.

"Cold water can quickly make you tired and short of breath while open water may often hold hidden hazards, so it’s important to make sure that children are closely supervised when swimming."

Since Swim Safe launched in 2013, more than 6,000 children have taken part in the free programme. This year it has expanded to six locations, with space for up to 12,500 young people to participate and gain valuable open water safety advice and experience. 

The sessions are run by experienced ASA teachers and RNLI Lifeguards. Debra Willison, an ASA Swim Safe teacher in Sandhaven, South Shields, said: "Swim Safe really does work. I met a couple whose son had taken part in a Swim Safe session last year. They told me that shortly afterwards they went on holiday abroad and the boy found himself out of his depth and got into difficulty. 

"Although shaken, he remembered what he was taught by the Swim Safe teachers and managed to stay safe and call for help. This is absolutely what these sessions are all about and I’m incredibly proud to be part of such an important, life-saving initiative."

The free 40-minute sessions take place during the school summer holidays at Boscombe in Bournemouth, Brockhole in the Lake District,  Bude Sea Pool in Cornwall, Sandhaven in South Shields, and for the first time this year, in Jersey and on the Isle of Man.

More information about Swim Safe, including location and session times, people can be found at swimming.org/swimsafe.

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