These figures by the Amateur Swimming Association have highlight the need for youngsters to learn this vital skill that can not only boast confidence but save lives and possibly those of people around them.
Alex Walsh, who joined the charity as a Sea Cadet, now volunteers at his local unit. He recently won an act of bravery award for saving a man’s life at sea.
He says: “It’s vitally important that all young people learn to swim – it saves lives. Young people learning to swim can join Sea Cadets and gain key lifesaving skills such as how to summon first aid assistance and the dangers of ponds, rivers and seas. This is alongside the teamwork, confidence and communication skills that all cadets develop and can be crucial in dangerous situations.”
Recent research by the Royal Life Saving Society UK reveals that last year 400 people have died from drowning – that’s more than people dying from domestic fires and cycling put together.
The Amateur Swimming Association research showed that almost half (48%) of seven to 11-year-olds some 1.1 million children, cannot swim the length of a standard pool (25 metres), despite it being compulsory for primary schools to provide swimming lessons.
The Sea Cadets are a national nautical youth charity working with 14,000 young people across the UK. The organisation teaches young people the importance of respecting the water and the dangers of open waters and how to summon help.
Young people gaining this fundamental skill can then challenge themselves through a range of nautical activities like sailing, kayaking and rowing at their local Sea Cadet unit.
The progressive training programme that Sea Cadets offers aims to have a positive impact on young people’s life chances. This includes improving attendance and achievement in school and helping with employment.