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:
- Ensure that you and your family can swim, be water confident, and have water safety skills
- 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
- Become aware of, and know how to avoid key water-safety hazards; such as rips, cold-water, moving water whilst outside
- 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