Across the UK, 1 in 3 children leave primary school unable to swim, up from 1 in 4 in 2022. Childhood drownings have increased by 43% in the last year.
Dr Neil Hudson MP is calling for a swift intervention to keep our children safe around water, and save lives.
Last week, Dr Hudson joined Speedo Swim United and Speedo athletes Ellie Simmonds OBE and Michael Gunning for the unveiling of the results of their 2023 pop-up pool initiative - Taking Pools to Playgrounds. The innovative programme brought temporary pools to seven schools in disadvantaged and ethnically diverse communities across the Black Country, an area with a swimming attainment of less than 50 per cent and most children within walking distance of open water.
Dr Hudson is a strong proponent of swimming pools locally - and the vast health and wellbeing benefits they bring. Dr Hudson has thrown his support behind Penrith's newest swimming pool and welcomed tens of thousands of pounds of central Government funds for local centres.
Dr Neil Hudson MP said:
"Swimming is a vital life skill for young folk to learn. Moreover, being able to swim unlocks a host of wellbeing and mental health opportunities that getting into a pool can provide.
"It was great to meet Ellie and Michael who do so well to juggle their own athletic pursuits with good causes like this one. I'm delighted to support this important initiative and hope we can see real change, particularly for parts of the country where young people are not routinely taught to swim."
Through focused on-site swimming interventions, 742 children participated in daily swimming lessons for 3 weeks. Over the course of the programme, pupils of all swimming ability improved their swimming skills, with children and schools experiencing additional benefits such as reduced travel time, improved behaviour and maximised time in the water.
As a result of the Swim United intervention:
- 90% of children demonstrated safe self-rescue
- 79.1% of children increased the distance they can swim
- 89.6% demonstrated safe self-rescue theory
- 51% improved the ability to demonstrate a range of strokes
Within their report, Speedo Swim United are calling on policymakers to reform the school swimming education system. Alongside Swim United, I am calling for:
- Ringfence the funding needed from each pupil premium for investment in swimming provision
- Identify where swimming attainment is lowest in the UK, and therefore where additive intervention is needed
- Commit additional funding over and above the ringfenced pupil premium for the schools with lowest attainment