Biggest ever campaign to keep the Isle of Wight’s children safe in the water
More than 2,000 Isle of Wight children, aged 7-14, are being given a unique opportunity this summer to learn vital life-saving skills aimed at keeping them safe in the water and on the beach.
Created by Swim England and the RNLI, the Swim Safe campaign provides free training for children on how to swim safely outdoors and what to do if they get into difficulty.
It’s the largest scheme of its type ever to come to the Isle of Wight and will see hour-long sessions run by qualified swimming instructors and lifeguards, supported by volunteers, teaching children on Sandown Beach weekdays from 20 July to 17 August.
Swim Safe launched in Cornwall in 2013, but this is the first time it has been to the Isle of Wight and much of the drive to bring it to the island has been down to the RNLI Isle of Wight Lifeboat Board. This is a unique organisation that helps support the Isle of Wight’s three RNLI lifeboat stations at Bembridge, Cowes and Yarmouth, RNLI lifeguards, the Inshore Lifeboat Centre and fund-raisers on the island.
Peter Baxter, the RNLI’s Swim Safe coordinator on the Isle of Wight, said he was delighted the initiative was coming to the island: ‘For the past few years we have really been expanding the work of the Lifeboat Board on the island to include coastal safety and education. Bringing Swim Safe to the island, working alongside Swim England has been a major achievement for us and will improve water safety right across the island’.
‘The Isle of Wight has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country and is a mecca for water sports and we want to make sure the children who live here are able to fully enjoy this natural resource,’ he added. ‘Swim Safe will teach them the vital skills they need to get the most our wonderful environment while being aware of the risks and how to stay safe’.
‘Children love swimming outdoors, but swimming in the sea, rivers or lakes is very different to swimming in a pool, where most children learn. Swim Safe is a free, fun activity that teaches kids lifelong skills that will help them enjoy open water safely’.
‘Places are free and can be booked online at swimsafe.org.uk (If you go to ‘Book a session’, IoW is second on the list, or go direct on: https://swimsafe.org.uk/locations/iow) and children only need to bring their swim suit and a towel.’ The sessions take place at Sandown Beach, where our RNLI lifeguards are based, and parents and carers are encouraged to stay during the session to find out more about making sure their children are safe at the beach and by the water.
Children aged 7–14 can take part if they can already swim at least 25 metres. Swim Safe provides wetsuits and swim hats for the sessions and children get a free goody bag and T-shirt.
Swim Safe and the RNLI would like to thank Southern Water for its financial support and the Isle of Wight Council for bringing the scheme to the island’s schools where children are already benefiting from expert tuition.
Sessions for schools started this week on the island and Yarmouth & Shalfleet Primary schools (pictured) were visited on the beach by the Lord Lieutenant, Maj Gen Sir Martin White, the Chairman of Isle of Wight Council Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox and the Mayor of Sandown Town Council Cllr Jacqui Mereweather, supported by the Chairman of RNLI IW Lifeboat Board Robin Ebsworth and Swim Safe staff.
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Notes to Editors
About Swim Safe
Swim Safe was created by Swim England and the RNLI in 2013 to help children aged 7–14 stay safe while enjoying swimming outdoors.
More than 13,000 children took part in a Swim Safe session at 20 locations in 2017. Now in its sixth year, Swim Safe has grown to include 29 locations across the UK hosting sessions for the public and local schools.
The sessions are delivered by local partners, including community groups, leisure providers, local councils and RNLI lifeguard teams.
Swim Safe’s goal is for all children in the UK and Ireland to grow up with the skills to stay safe in and around the open water. Find out more at
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
Key facts about the RNLI
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.
Learn more about the RNLI
Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries
Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.
The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland