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Olympic stars unite to put spotlight on school swimming

By Jak Phillips    11 Nov 2015
Steve Parry, Rebecca Adlington and Mark Foster with local schoolchildren at the Victorian-themed event

British swimming greats Rebecca Adlington, Mark Foster and Steve Parry joined sports minister Tracey Crouch yesterday (10 November) to celebrate 125 years of school swimming and highlight the large amount of work that still needs to be done.

The event at Everyone Active’s Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre in St Albans, saw the swimmers dressed in Victorian costumes to mark the occasion, with 125 local school children taking part in a Victorian-style school swimming lesson. It was held in partnership with Adlington’s SwimStars and the ASA (Amateur Swimming Association).

That morning also saw the release of the ASA’s 2015 School Swimming Survey, which shows there is still a long way to go to improve school swimming lessons in England.

The report found only 52 per cent of children aged 7 to 11 are able to swim 25m (82ft) unaided, despite it being a Key Stage 2 national curriculum requirement. Meanwhile, 33 per cent of parents are unaware of their child’s progress or ability regarding water safety and swimming, and only 17 per cent of primary schools communicate with secondary schools regarding a pupil’s swimming ability.

Swimming has suffered a hard time of late, with the most recent Sport England figures showing 144,200 fewer people taking to the pool in the last six months and 390,700 fewer in the last year. The long term trend is also concerning, with 729,000 people stopping swimming in the last decade.

In light of the latest results, Adlington, Foster, Parry, Crouch and Jon Glenn – Head of Learn to Swim at the ASA – took part in a discussion on the opportunities and importance of school swimming and why it must be safeguarded for Britain’s children.

“Swimming is such an important lifesaving skill and gateway sport that it must remain a priority for schools,” said ASA chief executive Adam Paker.

“We all need to work together to ensure that schools have access to high quality swimming provision so that all children learn to swim and are able to continue to enjoy the water throughout their lives.”

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