Thanet schoolchildren learn vital lessons to stay safe in the sea

Lifeguards News Release

In a unique programme run as a joint venture by Swim England and the RNLI, primary school children have taken to the waves of Margate beach to learn vital open water safety skills.

RNLI/Ellen Dean

Swim Safe is a community-based education programme aimed at children ages 7-14 that teaches them how to be safe in and around open water. Supervised by qualified swim instructors and RNLI lifeguards, the hour-long session involves open water safety advice taught on land and thirty minutes of in-water instruction with the instructors.

The appropriate kit – including swimming hats, wetsuits, and floatation devices – are all provided. Children only need to bring their swimming costume and a towel.

RNLI Community Safety Partner for South East and London, Guy Addington, emphasises the unique nature of open water swimming: ‘Children love swimming outdoors, but swimming in the sea, rivers or lakes is very different to swimming in a pool, where most children learn.

‘It’s essential children learn about open water safety – where it is safe to swim, how to stay safe and what to do if they get into difficulty in the water.

‘We want all children to have access to this training, so all Swim Safe sessions are funded by the RNLI and Swim England partnership and so are completely free of charge.’

The programme aims to support the UK Drowning Prevention Strategy’s aim of reducing accidental drowning by 50 per cent by 2026, to which Swim England and the RNLI are committed as members of the National Water Safety Forum.

Gail Crompton, a swim-teacher of sixteen years, took the lead of a recent session when pupils from Haddon Dene School in Broadstairs visited Margate:

‘I think that I must have taught all of Thanet how to swim by now!’ she said. ‘With my experience, I firmly believe Swim Safe is a crucial and worthwhile programme. Living on the coast, it’s so important that the children know to swim between the red-and-yellow flags on lifeguarded beaches and understand what to do if they get into difficulty’.

The children are also taught about the RNLI’s ‘Float to Live’ campaign, which gives clear life-saving advice on what to do if people find themselves in water unexpectedly – and how to cope with cold water shock. *

Finley, aged nine, who attended the session said: ‘I really liked swimming in the sea. I found it easy and fun, even if it was cold, and now I know what all the flags mean!’

It is the second year that Swim Safe has been available in Margate. Located at the Lifeguard Tower on the Main Beach, the site offers both school and public sessions. Public sessions run every Monday and Friday between July 22 and 30 August.

To take part in the session, participants must be able to swim 25 metres unaided. To book a session, visit

Media contacts

Paul Dunt, RNLI Regional Media Officer, South East and London, on 07785 296252 or at [email protected]

RNLI: Mike Carhart-Harris, Public Relations Manager (Campaigns), on 01202 663168 or at [email protected]

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.

From with a single scheme in Cornwall, Swim Safe has grown into a national programme spanning the UK. More than 20,000 children took part in a Swim Safe session across 29 locations in 2018.

This summer, Swim Safe is coming to 36 beach and inland water locations across England, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. It is being delivered in partnership with Swim Wales and a range of local delivery partners.

Find out more at

About Swim England

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

About the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is the charity saves lives at sea. RNLI volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the UK and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations. The charity’s seasonal lifeguards keep people safe throughout the summer on over 240 beaches, and dedicated flood rescue teams are ready to help those affected by flooding.

The RNLI is a charity and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its lifesaving services.

RNLI crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives since 1824. But as well as rescuing people, the RNLI saves lives by influencing, supervising and educating people too. The Charity works internationally with like-minded organisations to help tackle drowning around the world.

For more information, visit

* Respect the Water is the RNLI’s national drowning prevention campaign. As part of this campaign the RNLI is urging people to fight their instincts if they fall into water and remember one simple skill – floating – that could save lives from drowning.

Sudden immersion in cold water puts these people at severe risk of suffering cold water shock with triggers the instinctive, but life-threatening reaction to gasp uncontrollably and swim hard, which can lead to drowning.

Although it’s counter intuitive, the best immediate course of action is to fight your instinct and try to float. The effects of cold water shock will pass quite quickly within 60-90 seconds. Floating for this short time will let you regain control of your breathing and your survival chances will greatly increase.

RNLI/Ellen Dean

Thanet Swim Safe instructors Jacquie and Daisy

RNLI/Ellen Dean

Haddon Dene students swimming outside, being watched over by RNLI lifeguard Josh

RNLI/Ellen Dean

Haddon Dene pupils practising float to live on land with Jacquie

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 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 by email.