CHILDREN in Dumfries and Galloway aged three to five are taking to swimming in great numbers thanks to the most comprehensive teaching programme of its kind in the UK.
The emergence of the massive uptake in pre-schoolers is one of the success stories of the Scottish Swimming and Scottish Water partnership to roll out the Learn to Swim National Framework for Swimming across Scotland.
The earlier the better is the key message when teaching children to learn to swim, says Scottish Pool hero Duncan Scott.
Duncan, who won an incredible six medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia in April – the most by a Scottish athlete at a single Games, said: “Getting children into the pool as early is possible is best way to start to love swimming.
“It is fantastic to hear so many kids at such a young age are learning to swim.”
Duncan is the ambassador of the Scottish Swimming National Learn to Swim Framework, which is supported by Scottish Water and is promoting the importance of getting children swimming at a young age.
The Learn to Swim Framework is aimed at youngsters from birth to 11-years-old 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.
In Dumfries and Galloway, 138 pre-schoolers have enrolled onto the programme from a total of 978 youngsters.
Nationally, more than 5600 children aged three to five years have enrolled onto learn to swim programmes run at 19 Leisure Trusts and Local Authorities covering 100+ pools across the country.
This figure represents more than 10% of the 53,541 total number of youngsters who are receiving lessons under the framework.
Scottish Swimming, with the support of Scottish Water, wants to bring this opportunity to even more young children by getting the message out there to start swimming before they start school.
Brian Lironi, Director of Corporate Affairs with Scottish Water, said: “It is already a fantastic achievement to have more than 53,000 children learning to swim but to know more that more than 10% are children who not even at school yet is amazing.
“Learning to swim is such an important safety skill and it’s vital the basics are learned at an early age. Safety both around and in the water is the paramount reason we’re involved in the Learn the Swim partnership with Scottish Swimming.
“We are looking forward to seeing the programme go from strength-to-strength, encouraging even more children and young people into the country’s swimming pools.”
Scottish Swimming, the national governing body for a number of aquatic disciplines, has the vision of ensuring everyone in the country can swim. The main success of the Learn to Swim Framework is the collaboration between local partners and Scottish Swimming, made possible and enhanced through the support of Scottish Water. Local Authorities and Leisure Trusts have embraced the ethos of the programme, which aims to create more opportunities for children to learn to swim in a quality environment.
Forbes Dunlop, CEO of Scottish Swimming, said: “Introducing young children to swimming at an early age brings a whole host of benefits for children. The pool is a water based adventure playground for children to have fun, build confidence and learn new skills which they can use now and in future life.
“We want to try to ensure every child has a memorable, fun and enjoyable experience whilst learning to swim. I would like to thank our local partners and Scottish Water for their continued support in delivering this important programme.”