Swimming and Water Safety

Swimming and water safety knowledge is a key life skill that brings considerable benefits to the safety and wellbeing of those taking part. The risk of accidental drowning death in a managed swimming pool is very low: a child under eight has an annualised risk of death of approximately 1:5.5 million in this environment.

However, the relationship between swimming ability and water safety is not simple. The extent of exposure, nature of the unsupervised water, individual perceptions and risk-taking behaviours all need to be considered.

Ability to swim and be water safe – how well are we doing?

The ability to swim and demonstrate water safety skills is a compulsory National Curriculum requirement at key stage two (ages 7-11).

A long standing key issue is the variable level of attainment. A report for British Swimming found that in 2011 between 26-91% of children met the KS2 criteria, depending upon where they lived.  Areas with better access to facilities had higher attainment rates.

Around 1 in 3 children aged 11- approximately 200,000 in 2011 - were unable to swim.

Our key swimming and water safety advice is:

  1. Ensure that you and your family can swim, be water confident, and have water safety skills
  2. Make smart choices; such as swimming at lifeguarded beaches and pools; use appropriate safety equipment and do not drink alcohol before going in the water
  3. Become aware of, and know how to avoid key water-safety hazards; such as rips, cold-water, moving water whilst outside
  4. Know what to do in an emergency.

Although these cannot provide an absolute 'drown-proof' level of protection. They will greatly affect your survival chances, and equip children with a positive lifelong skill.

Our water safety information and resources

Useful links


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Leisure Safety
+44 (0)121 248 2235
leisurehelp@rospa.com
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