SWIMMING lesson providers from across Scotland will meet this month to discuss ambitious plans that will create a generational legacy for the nation’s children and young people.
The summit in Stirling will be the first chance since the pandemic for aquatic leaders within the National Learn to Swim Framework – including most of Scotland’s Leisure Trusts – to meet in person.
Top of the agenda will be delivering the next phase of Scotland’s successful Learn to Swim Framework, which has already helped more than 106,000 youngsters to be more confident, safer and competent swimmers.
Last month it was announced that Scottish Water has agreed to continue its partnership with Scottish Swimming to support the programme, with the aim of creating an enduring legacy that will help build a nation of happier, healthier and safer young people who fulfil their potential.
Euan Lowe, Chief Executive Officer at Scottish Swimming, said: “Learn to Swim is delivered by staff working for Scotland’s 36 leisure trusts and aquatic providers across 160 pools throughout the country. To be able to bring everybody together in person for the first time in over two years is a terrific landmark and there will be a great deal to discuss.
“The continuing programme between leisure trusts and aquatic providers – the front line of Learn to Swim – Scottish Swimming and supported by Scottish Water is a fantastic example of partnership, delivering real improvements for thousands of children, one which is certainly worth celebrating.”
A major focus of the event will be water safety and the recruitment and retention of teachers for the Learn to Swim programme as well as training and ongoing teacher education.
Euan added: “Unsurprisingly the pandemic has led to a reduction in the numbers of Learn to Swim teachers and workforce recovery is something we are addressing as a priority.
“However, testing times also tend to bring out the most inventive solutions, so we will be hearing from providers about some of the ways they have innovated and adapted to the recruitment and retention challenges.”
Attendees will also get the chance to hear leaders from both Scottish Swimming and Scottish Water outline their vision for the next phase of Learn to Swim, with the chance to create a long-lasting swimming legacy for the nation.
A key strand will be the development and implementation of the Scottish Water School Swimming Framework, an initiative that aims to provide thousands of primary school pupils with the opportunity to learn to swim in a more accessible way, particularly those from low-income families.
Brian Lironi, Director of Corporate Affairs with Scottish Water, recently chaired the annual Water Safety Scotland Conference, with over 100 attendees and discussed the country’s drowning prevention strategy and education.
He said: “We hope that the ongoing commitment of everyone involved with Learn to Swim can deliver a positive impact for Scotland for decades to come. The legacy will be improvements in water safety and working with schools and local authorities to give children a platform for success both in and out of the pool.”
He pointed to research into the cognitive benefits for young people who take swimming lessons that 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.
Before the pandemic the swimming leaders from Leisure Trusts and aquatic providers would come together twice a year under the Learn to Swim banner to share best practice, review performance and plan the next phases of delivery. Regular virtual meetings have been taking place during the pandemic but this will be the first in person event in two years.
The interruption caused by Covid means that some providers have not had a chance to attend the vital in-person sessions in almost three years, so a packed agenda of events and sessions has been lined up for the April 27 event at Stirling Court Hotel.
The national Learn to Swim programme was developed to help children of all abilities to become confident, safer and competent swimmers. 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, it has provided lessons to around 106,000 kids.
It aims to reach another 100,000 kids by 2025.
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.
More information on the Learn to Swim Framework can be found on the dedicated website: https://learntoswim.scot/