Fifth year of children learning to Swim Safe in Bude

Lifeboats News Release

Swim Safe, a national programme offering free outdoor swimming and water safety sessions for children aged 7–14, returns to Bude again this summer, with more than 5,000 children taking part in the free sessions since Swim Safe started in Bude in 2013.


Finlay Mckinnon will attend his fifth Swim Safe session this year at Bude.

The programme was first launched in Bude five years ago and since then has spread to more than 20 locations across the UK and Ireland with 18,000 sessions having taken place.

12-year-old Finlay Mckinnon has attended the Swim Safe sessions at Bude every year since it started and will be taking part again this year.

His mother Eilidh Maccormick says: ‘Finlay’s first Swim Safe was actually when we were on holiday in Bude prior to moving here the following year. I noticed on the beach they were doing something regarding water safety and went to ask about it. They were so friendly and encouraging that l booked him and his sister Jessie in for the next day before we went home the following day. I am so glad l did and I continue to sign them up every year.’

Swim Safe teaches children how to stay safe when swimming outdoors, which is often more challenging than swimming in a pool.

Eilidh added: ‘Not being brought up by the sea meant we were seriously lacking in knowledge of water safety and the potential dangers. Kids being kids can be over confident at times and Finlay definitely comes away every time with a renewed sense of respect for the sea and how best to manage himself in water emergencies.’

The programme was created jointly by Swim England, the national governing body for swimming in England, and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), the charity that saves lives at sea.

Finlay says: ‘I like going to Swim Safe every year because it is fun and I like getting in the water. The instructors are friendly and if you are nervous about going in the water they reassure you and help you. I can't wait to do it this year because I know it will be fun and I can remember all the things I have been taught before about how to be safe in the sea.’

The hour-long Swim Safe sessions are run by qualified swimming teachers and qualified lifeguards, supported by a team of trained volunteers. The first 20 minutes covers land-based safety and then it is into the water for practical tuition with a swimming teacher.

Finlay added: ‘At Swim Safe you learn how to be safe in the water and if you do get into any situation, you know not to panic and go into the position you will be taught called the cold water shock position. You are taught how to signal for help and you also learn what not to do on the beach and where it is safe to swim.’

Children must be able to swim at least 25 metres to take part. Wetsuits, swimming hats and a free goody bag with a t-shirt are all provided.

Last year nearly 700 children took part in Swim Safe sessions at the site in Bude, with hundreds more taking part in sessions in Plymouth and Penzance – as well as thousands more at coastal and inland locations across the UK.

Eilidh says: ‘Through the years Finlay has learned to enjoy his time on the beach more and more but always with a good level of caution, and has learned to identify when others may be putting themselves at risk. It is an amazing resource for families to support themselves in staying safe whilst having fun on the beach and in the sea.’

This year a further 12 Swim Safe sessions will be held at Bude Sea Pool and Summerleaze Beach between 31 July and 23 August.

Bill Williams Swim Safe Co-ordinator, for Bude says: ‘Children love swimming outdoors – but swimming in the sea, rivers and lakes is more challenging than swimming in a pool where most lessons take place. Swim Safe helps children learn to keep safe when swimming outdoors, so they know what do if they get into trouble. And because Swim Safe sessions are free and fun, they are a great activity for children aged 7–14 who live or are holidaying in Bude or the surrounding area.’

To book a free Swim Session, visit then share your experience using #SwimSafe and at

Media contacts

For more information please contact Carrie Garrad RNLI Press Officer, at or call 07786668847. For out of hours enquiries, please contact the RNLI Duty Press Officer on 01202 336789.

Notes to Editors

· Pictures and captions attached. Credit RNLI

· Interviews available upon request

· Media wanting to attend a 2017 Swim Safe session in Bude should contact the press team

About Swim Safe

Swim Safe was created jointly by Swim England and the RNLI to help children aged 7–14 stay safe when enjoying swimming outdoors. It was launched in 2013 in Bude and is now delivered to the public and schools at over 20 locations across the UK.

This year Swim Safe is being delivered in partnership with Scottish Swimming and Swim Wales. It is also being supported nationally by the Swimming Trust, and the Swim Safe schools programme is being supported by Norton by Symantec.

About Swim England

Formally known as the Amateur Swimming Association, Swim England is the national governing body for swimming in England. It helps people learn how to swim, enjoy the water safely, and compete in all aquatic sports.

Swim England’s vision is of a nation swimming and it strives to inspire everyone to enjoy the water in the way that suits them. Each month millions of people are able to enjoy swimming, diving, water polo and synchronised swimming, having been through the Swim England Learn to Swim Programme.

Swim England also supports its members, clubs and athletes, and runs qualification and education programmes to develop the workforce. For more information visit


In 2016 nearly 700 children took part in Swim Safe sessions at the site in Bude


Children can take part in Swim Safe sessions at two sites in Cornwall

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.