RNLI teams up with Black Swimming Association

Lifeboats News Release

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and the Black Swimming Association (BSA) have joined forces with the shared aim of reducing drownings.

On a visit to the RNLI College members and friends of the BSA took part in a number of activities including throwbag training

RNLI/Justyn Smith

Members and friends of the BSA try their hand at throwbag training

The RNLI is excited to be involved with the BSA’s new ground-breaking research programme, which aims to dispel some of the myths surrounding ethnically diverse communities and water safety.

According to Sport England, 95% of black adults and 80% of black children do not swim, while an estimated 532,000 children from ethnically diverse communities have missed out on swimming lessons due to the pandemic.

Now, the BSA hopes a new research programme will provide a greater understanding of the behaviours and barriers facing people of African, Caribbean and Asian heritage preventing them from taking part in aquatics, as well as water safety knowledge around how to stay safe around water.

According to the Canal & River Trust, 20.5% of people in England and Wales who live within 1km of water are from ethnically diverse backgrounds, which is above the national average of 14%. Due to a disengagement in aquatics, and consequently little to no knowledge of water safety education, these groups are considered to be high risk when it comes to drowning.

BSA chair and co-founder Danielle Obe said: 'We’re confident that this pioneering research will improve our understanding of the issues and barriers that children and adults in African, Caribbean and Asian communities face in learning to swim and engaging in aquatics and water safety, and that they will go on to benefit from aquatic activity throughout their lives.

'For the first time we will gain real insight into whether these barriers are cultural, faith-based, community influenced or based on individual circumstances. We hope, through a combination of the research and a community engagement programme, to affect real change in the aquatic sector.'

Alice Dearing is a co-founder of the BSA and this month made history in Tokyo when she became Great Britain’s first black female Olympic swimmer, finishing 19th in the 10km marathon event.

'I’m really excited about this new project,' she said. 'It’s a huge step towards getting more people from ethnically diverse backgrounds engaged in aquatics and all it has to offer.'

Professor Mike Tipton, MBE, lead researcher and academic partner at the University of Portsmouth will lead the water-based research.

'By examining the physiological, anatomical and morphological characteristics of African, Caribbean and Asian volunteers in air and water, the proposed research will hopefully help to dispel the myth that these individuals are unable to stay afloat and therefore enjoy water-based activities,' he said.

Professor Tipton’s previous research has been a cornerstone of the RNLI's FLOAT to Live safety campaign, which encourages anyone in trouble in the water to resist the urge to thrash round, relax and lean back, extending their arms and legs like a starfish to regain control of their breathing.

The research project, which will be woven into a large-scale community engagement programme, will also intend to create lasting relationships between disengaged communities and the aquatics sector, highlighting the value of bringing communities together.

The BSA will then work with its partners across the leisure, health and education sectors to co-create solutions and enable stronger representation at all levels of aquatics.

The RNLI is backing the BSA’s innovative new research programme with the two organisations forming a partnership to collaborate on water safety and drowning prevention work.

RNLI Head of Water Safety, Gareth Morrison said: 'The RNLI’s vision is to save every one, and an essential part of this is ensuring effective water safety messaging and education in the community.

'By joining forces with the Black Swimming Association the combined reach and influence of our organisations will far exceed anything either could do alone.

'We are extremely proud to be working with the BSA and doing all we can to reduce drowning in the African, Caribbean and Asian communities in the UK and Ireland.'

For more information go to RNLI.org/BSA

The BSA encourages individuals and donors who would like to fundraise or participate in its upcoming research programme to get in touch via the charity’s website.

About The Black Swimming Association.

The Black Swimming Association (BSA) is a non-profit organisation set up to ensure everyone, especially people of African, Caribbean and Asian heritage have equal access, feel included and have a SAFE and quality experience in and around water. We work to promote the education of African, Caribbean and Asian communities on water safety, drowning prevention measures, and the benefits of swimming as an invaluable life saving skill. The BSA is positioned as an advocate, strategic partner and change agent in the aquatic sector.

The BSA is a non-profit organisation registered in England and Wales, registration no. 12832788.

Registered Office 71 – 75 Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9JQ

To find out more visit: https://www.thebsa.co.uk/

Email: [email protected]

Members and friends of the BSA floating on their backs in the RNLI's state-of-the-art sea survival pool

RNLI/Justyn Smith

Members and friends of the BSA in the RNLI's state-of-the-art sea survival pool
Portrait of Professor Mike Tipton at the coast

University of Portsmouth

Professor Mike Tipton of the University of Portsmouth will lead the water-based research

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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.

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