For International Learn to Swim Week, which starts today, STA reveals the findings of a new report, which shows that 70% of parents think swimming is the most important sport for children to learn—with 62% saying it’s an invaluable life skill.
However, while this research suggests British parents understand the true importance of swimming, the reality is a lot different with only a third of parents saying they take their children swimming at least once a week, with membership costs and inflexible pool opening times being cited as the main reasons.
Furthermore, only 8% of the parents surveyed by STA said that their child has swimming lessons through their school. This reveals, unsurprisingly, that there is now an even greater responsibility on parents to ensure their child can swim and is water safe, but as the survey suggests, many don’t have the time or the money—this means that countless children are missing out on the opportunity to learn a vital life skill.
This independent research has been published to coincide with International Learn to Swim Week; a charitable campaign led by STA designed to promote the importance of learning to swim and water safety education.
During the week-long campaign, STA will be promoting the importance of children attending regular, structured swimming lessons; and why, especially in the primary years of a child’s life, consideration should be given to prioritising lessons over other paid-for extra-curricular activities.
STA also want to encourage more families to spare more time to go swimming together; not only to support their child’s swimming lesson progression, but because of all the social, health and fitness benefits it can bring to a family. Plus, it is one of only a few activities where families can bond, and play and join in with together.
Zoe Cooper, STA’s Sales and Marketing Director and a mum of two children under 5 years old, said:
As parents, we know how important it is for our children to learn how to swim and the research positively confirms this, but we now must start to bridge the gap between knowing and doing, and prioritise swimming—ideally through structured lessons, but also socially as a family.
Learning to swim is a life skill that every child should be given the opportunity to learn, and if children are not being given the opportunity at school, we need to find practical ways to help encourage families to go swimming more often with their children, explained Zoe.
As a start, during International Learn to Swim Week, parents will be able to download a free swimming pack, which shares advice on how they can support their child’s swimming journey, and how to make the most of family-fun swimming sessions.
STA has also recruited its first Water Safety Squad—a team of young water ambassadors who each have a unique swimming story to share, and who will be promoting the importance of learning to swim within their own communities with friends and families.
During the week, STA will also be working in partnership with hundreds of UK swim schools, and internationally across 32 countries, to help them promote the benefits of learning to swim and the importance of water safety education to young learners, adults and families.
The research for STA was carried out online by Opinion Matters throughout February 2019 amongst a panel resulting in more than 1000 parents with children under 16 responding.