New research* from STA, a UK charity dedicated to the teaching of swimming and water safety, shows that children may be exiting learn-to-swim programmes too early, before they have achieved essential lifesaving and survival skills.
It’s a worrying report and something we see often.
Hundreds of children die each year from accidental drowning and whilst, according to RoSPA statistics, the number of accidental drownings in the UK has fallen to its lowest level since records began, it’s still an essential life skill that parents often don’t place enough emphasis on.
So when is a good time to stop lessons?
It’s a good question and one that we understand has several influences. Parents often feel that when they see their children swimming a width or length of pool that’s enough. And with today’s time, family and school pressures, it’s understandable.
But we suggest that, at the very least, you DO NOT stop lessons until your child can at least perform the following skills regularly and with ease:
- Swim a minimum of 100m in 3 strokes
- Demonstrate an understanding of survival techniques
- Be able to tread water for 2 minutes
But is the going far enough?
No, we don’t think so. Swimming is a lifelong activity. It encourages a healthy lifestyle, is a great form of exercise and it opens the doors to many other water activities.
We often see parents stopping lessons around the same time as students start to gain a real understanding and enjoyment of the sport. They have grasped the skills and are now ready to make some massive gains in their skill sets.
If you can continue, we would urge you to do so as long as possible. The longer your child participates in swimming lessons, the more confident and safer they will become in water. What’s more, it’s at this stage that we can progress students to become beautiful swimmers in all 4 strokes, that they have the physical and mental capacities to demonstrate real promise and to learn to love the sport of swimming even more.
According to the STA research, the top 5 barriers for children not attending swimming lessons are as follows:
- Not enough pool space or teaching time to meet demand – 47%.
- Parents not recognising the importance of learning to swim – 47%
- Parents prioritising other paid-activities over swimming – 42%
- Price of lessons – 40%
- Parents lack of time to commit to regular lessons – 38%
And it’s the loss of Swimming Pools and available space that we know is one of the biggest issues facing swim schools and parents today. Since the beginning of 2013, 131 pools have closed and just 41 have opened. And the decline in swimming pool stock continues this year with 33 swim sites closing in the past year compared to just 22 opening.
Although the new pools keep improving the quality of swimming stock for the consumer, the numbers are failing to keep up with demand (STATE OF THE UK SWIMMING INDUSTRY REPORT 2018). It’s a shocking fact that we are looking to address at Swimming Rocks over the coming 12months. With so many pools closing, the only way to address the lack of swimming lesson spaces is to open new ones. Watch this space…
So to all parents who are thinking of when to stop lessons, I would urge you to ask yourself the following;
Is my child safe in the water? Are they progressing and can they achieve more? Are they enjoying their lessons and what do you want them to achieve through their swim coaching?
If you have any questions, you should raise these with your instructor who will be happy to offer their advice and guidance.
Our advice…. just keep swimming!