“Fantastic ambassador for swimming”, says Head of STA
Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington, who has announced her retirement from competitive swimming, is a fantastic ambassador for the sport, the head of STA, the world’s largest swimming teaching and lifesaving association, said today.
Twenty-three-year-old Adlington, who won two gold medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and two bronze medals at London 2012, has pledged to continue being part of the sport by helping youngsters to be able to swim 25m through her new swimming programmes.
Roger Millward, Chief Executive of STA, paid tribute to the swimmer’s achievements, saying that her positive attitude will inspire thousands of youngsters in the pool.
“Swimming is very lucky to have someone as inspirational as Rebecca to lead on swimming programmes and to mentor youngsters in the pool,” he said.
“Swimming is not just a sport for the elite, it is an essential life-saving skill. So having such a high-profile champion talk to young people about the importance of swimming and encourage them to learn is so important.
“This is particularly the case when you consider that only one in three youngsters can swim 25 metres when they leave primary school.”
Last year, it was revealed that two thirds of youngsters leave primary school at the age of 11 unable to swim 25 metres, which is a target set by Government.
This, coupled with the fact that drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death in children, means that encouraging families to take up swimming lessons is more important than ever.
Through its innovative Swim Academy model, STA has seen the numbers of learners increase by 45 per cent in Shropshire over the last 12 months.
The Academy was launched in January 2011 when Shropshire Council, faced with budget cuts, turned to STA to help create the country’s first Swim Academy management model at its six leisure centres.
Other authorities including Rochdale and Tewskesbury have also now embraced the Academy model with many more expected to follow suit. STA’s Academy model has a consistent pricing structure, better teaching and management programme, and rewards scheme for learners.
“To encourage swimming, local authorities and schools must do what they can to ensure provision is there for learners,” explained Roger.
“This can only achieved by providing cost-effective access to good quality swimming lesson programmes, like we’ve done in Shropshire.
“Adding high profile sporting heroes, such as Rebecca, to the mix of any swim programme helps to consolidate what swim schools across the country are trying to do: give youngsters the chance to learn this life-saving skill.”