Swim Safe returns to deliver free water safety lessons to children this summer

Lifeboats News Release

Swim Safe, a free programme created by Swim England and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is set to return, offering children aged 7-14 the opportunity to learn vital water safety skills.

RNLI/Nathan Williams

A Swim Safe session in action

The RNLI and Swim England are encouraging families to book children onto the free sessions after a report released last month by Swim England estimated 1.8 million children have missed out on swimming participation throughout the 2020/21 academic year due to Covid restrictions.

Now entering its eighth season, the Swim Safe programme has already delivered free sessions to over 139,000 children across the UK.

Swim Safe teaches young people how to stay safe in and around open water and what to do if they, or someone else, gets into difficulty.

The sessions, which are approximately 45 minutes, are run by local partners with trained instructors during the summer months at outdoor water locations including beaches and inland sites such as water sports centres. To take part children will need to be able to swim 25 metres unaided.

The sessions include:

· Interactive water safety advice for parents and children

· Up to 20 minutes in-water tuition with qualified instructors

· Kit for swimming outdoors (including swimming hats, wetsuits and floatation equipment)

Sam Johnson, National Water Safety Partner for the RNLI said: ‘We’re pleased to be able to partner with Swim England again and run free Swim Safe sessions this summer at a variety of coastal and inland locations around the UK.

‘With Swim Safe sadly not running last year due to covid, and swimming pools shut for much of that time, we’re encouraging all children between the ages of 7 and 14 to get involved and to build confidence in and around the water while learning vital lifesaving skills.’

Ashley Jones, Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Manager from Swim England said: ‘The new research has really highlighted the impact of Covid and how many children have missed out on swimming lessons during the pandemic.

‘Figures suggest that by the end of the 2020/21 academic year, 240,000 fewer children will be able to swim 25 metres compared to the previous academic year.

‘Given the last 12 months and with many choosing to stay local for summer breaks this year, it is even more important for youngsters to attend Swim Safe sessions, which provide crucial water safety advice.'

The RNLI and HM Coastguard have recently launched their beach safety campaign urging families and individuals to choose lifeguarded beaches after a new survey has revealed that up to 75% of people, aged 16-64 in the UK, plan to visit the coast this summer.

Sam added: ‘We are expecting this summer to be the busiest ever for the charity’s lifeguards and volunteer lifeboat crews.

‘In addition to children joining in with Swim Safe, we want people to enjoy the coast but urge everyone to respect the water, think about their own safety and know what to do in an emergency.

‘Our main advice is to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags.’

To find out more and book your child’s free place, visit swimsafe.org.uk.

Notes to editors

· Swim England, Swim Wales and the RNLI work closely with local partners to facilitate Swim Safe sessions

· A key water safety skill for all ages is to FLOAT – you can watch the video here.

· To support RNLI lifesavers, please visit RNLI.org/Go Donate

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Dave Riley, RNLI National Media Officer on 07795 015042 or [email protected] or RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

RNLI/Nathan Williams

Children enjoying a Swim Safe session

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.

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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.