Youngsters return to lessons with a splash as programme sees 87% recovery
A generation-defining swimming project for Scottish children is back on track after recording an 87% recovery from the huge disruptions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The National Learn to Swim Framework has already helped more than 106,000 youngsters to be more confident, safer and competent swimmers, but the programme was halted when the pandemic forced the closure of pools.
Following the announcement in March that Scottish Water will continue its partnership with Scottish Swimming to support the programme- delivered by aquatic providers across Scotland, new figures have revealed how quickly it is bouncing back.
Latest figures compiled by Scottish Swimming show that more than 70,000 youngsters across Scotland are currently signed up for the Learn to Swim programme.
Brian Lironi, Director of Corporate Affairs with Scottish Water, said: “There is still some way to go before we get back to pre-pandemic levels, but we are making better progress than we could have hoped for.
“Our ambition for the Learn to Swim programme is to create an enduring legacy for Scotland that will help build a nation of happier, healthier and safer young people who fulfil their potential in and out of the pool.
“While the pandemic put a brake on the entire programme, it is brilliant to see that children are getting back to it in large numbers and the Leisure Trusts and aquatic providers who deliver the lesson have as great an appetite as ever for making it a success.”
Scottish Swimming has carried out research with the 36 organisations which help deliver the Learn to Swim Framework, including a majority of local Leisure Trusts/Local Authorities and a number of independent aquatic providers.
So far 27 have returned their most up-to-date participation figures, with those numbers showing that 70,186 youngsters are currently enrolled. Of those 27 Leisure Trusts and other delivery partners, 12 have actually exceeded their pre-pandemic participation levels.
Euan Lowe, Scottish Swimming Chief Executive Officer, said: “It’s extremely positive to see such a high number of children return to swimming lessons. It tells us what an appealing and enduring programme we have created in Learn to Swim.
“Leisure Trusts have done an impressive job in getting youngsters back in the water so quickly and the fact that some of them are already ahead of pre-pandemic levels is nothing short of astonishing.
“Unfortunately, many swimming teachers moved on during the pandemic, whether to pursue alternative careers or for a variety of other reasons. The result is that some lesson providers will be more cautious about the rate of recovery, because they simply may not have enough swimming teachers to service the pent-up demand.
“We will be working very closely with all of the Trusts over the coming months to focus on recruitment, training and retention of swimming instructors, because what is clear to see is that the Learn to Swim programme is as popular as it has ever been.”
The Framework is being delivered across Scotland by 36 Leisure Trusts and aquatic providers in more than 160 pools. It is aimed at youngsters from birth upwards and provides consistently high-quality teaching at least once a week and which progresses through a series of lessons and levels over a number of years.
Over the first four years of the partnership, Learn to Swim has provided lessons to around 106,000 kids. It aims to reach another 100,000 kids by 2025.
Research into the cognitive benefits for young people who take swimming lessons has shown they achieve a range of developmental milestones earlier than those who don’t, regardless of their gender or background.
Children who are members of a swimming club and who compete regularly, develop core competencies – such as target-setting, teamwork, resilience, time management and leadership attributes – which can help them greatly in their future careers and lives.
Learn to Swim is championed by Scotland’s swimming superstars, World Champions and Olympic and Paralympic medallists Duncan Scott and Toni Shaw as its Ambassadors.