[ad] My children have always been water babies. They come by it honestly; I have always felt most at home in the sea or a lake or a swimming pool or even, at a pinch, in the bath. There is something about the water that makes me feel safe, like I have come home. It seems that my children feel it too; they have always been the sort of little person to head straight for the duck pond at the park, or to jump feet-first (shoes still on) into the stream, or even just to overflow the sink in their desire to run the cold water over their hands. The water has always felt like a sanctuary, like a playground; it has always been exactly what I have needed it to be in the moment and I guess that is what my children feel too!
The last few years haven’t been entirely conducive to formally learning to swim; our local swimming teachers all seem to have a massive backlog from the pandemic, which I guess is understandable given how long swimming facilities were closed for during the pandemic. I’ve been teaching my children to swim myself, and it’s been such fun to share such a meaningful part of my life – of myself – with them. I have gained so much from watching them find confidence in themselves, in their capacity to navigate the water. I have learned so much from teaching them – I am discovering reserves of patience, of playfulness, that I did not know I had. I am witnessing so much joy as they conquer this new skill, as I share in their blossoming relationship with the water. Teaching has never been a particularly strong part of my skill set, but we live so close to the sea that it is essential that the children learn to navigate the water safely – we cannot afford to wait for formal lessons to become available to them.
Recently we learned that one in four children leave primary school unable to swim, and this is due to increase to six in ten without intervention. Most of these children are from socially disadvantaged and minority ethnic communities. Research from the Black Swimming Association shows that 95% of black adults and 80% of black children do not swim in England and 93% of Asian adults and 78% of Asian children in England do not swim. According to the WHO, the risk of drowning is higher amongst minority ethnic communities.
To combat this Speedo has joined forces with Swim England, The Black Swimming Association and Active Black Country to form Speedo Swim United, a collective which aims to ensure all children are able to swim 25m by 2025. Collectively, Swim United has started a petition which asks the Government to intervene and drive tangible change, in order to ensure that all children are given equal access to swimming lessons during their schooling, regardless of background, ethnicity and location within the UK. Most children within the UK live within walking distance of open water, so access to affordable swimming lessons will literally save lives.
Please check out the Speedo Swim United petition and offer your support to this essential campaign!