Return of Swim Safe: free outdoor swimming safety sessions across UK and Ireland

Lifeboats News Release

Swim Safe, a national programme offering free outdoor swimming and water safety sessions for children aged 7-14, will be in more locations than ever before this summer.

Children take part in a sea-based Swim Safe session in Poole, Dorset

Swim Safe

Children take part in a Swim Safe session in Poole, Dorset

For the first time, there will be sessions in Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as in Wales and England. There will also be new inland locations for 2017 including Birmingham, London and Salford Quays.

Swim Safe teaches children aged 7-14 how to stay safe when swimming outdoors, which is often more challenging than swimming in a pool. The programme was created by Swim England, the national governing body for swimming in England, and the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution), the charity that saves lives at sea.

The free, hour-long Swim Safe sessions are run by qualified swimming teachers and 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. Wetsuits, swimming hats and a free goody bag with a t-shirt are all provided. Children must be able to swim at least 25 metres to take part.

Since Swim Safe started in 2013 with just one site in Bude, over 18,000 sessions have taken place across the country – last year over 7,000 children took part. Now in its fifth year, the programme continues to grow and in 2017, Swim Safe sessions will take place at 20 sites across the UK and Ireland including beaches, lakes, reservoirs and other inland locations.

In addition to public sessions, there are also Swim Safe sessions for schools, which means teachers can bring an entire class to a free session.

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

Guy Botterill, Swim Safe Project Manager, RNLI, said: ‘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. Thanks to Swim Safe, thousands of children will learn how to keep safe when swimming outdoors and know what to do if they get into trouble.’

Jon Glenn, Swim England, Learn to Swim Director, said: ‘We are incredibly proud of Swim Safe and the thousands of children who have so far had the opportunity to learn how to enjoy swimming outdoors safely.

‘Each year the programme is able to expand further thanks to the commitment and support of our partners and volunteers. We are especially pleased that for the first time this year, Swim Safe sessions will be held in Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as at more inland locations. This gives even more young people the opportunity to take part and learn these important life-saving skills.’

Children taking part in land-based Swim Safe activities

Swim Safe

Children taking part in a Swim Safe session
Children take part in an outdoor pool Swim Safe session in Plymouth

Swim Safe

Outdoor pool Swim Safe session in Plymouth

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 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.

Learn more about the RNLI

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 or by email.