As part of Drowning Prevention week, SPATA, the Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association is recommending that “all children by the age of 11 years should be able to swim 25 metres unaided.”
From 18-26th June, the Royal Life Saving Society UK, will be campaigning to cut the number of people who drown every year. Approximately 400 people drown in the UK annually, with many thousands more suffering life changing injuries. This equates to one person dying every 20 hours, making death by drowning the third highest cause of accidental child death in the country.
In order to raise awareness, SPATA have released tips showing the importance of water safety:
Always check the depth of the water. Shallow water can deepen suddenly, therefore if you are not a strong swimmer you should not swim out of your depth and set clear boundaries about where you will swim. Also, don’t jump or dive into water that you cannot see the bottom of, even if you swim there regularly. Rocks and debris could have moved in flowing water that will make it unsafe.
Look out for weeds. One or two weeds aren’t uncommon in slow flowing water, but a spaghetti-like forest can entangle a swimmer’s legs. Try to avoid them. If you do encounter some, slow your swim speed right down and either float using your arms to paddle or turn around slowly.
Watch out for strong currents. The best water has flowing currents and therefore you should be careful to judge the strength of the current to assess if you are a strong enough swimmer to deal with it. Always think about your escape route if you do get washed downstream.
Don’t swim alone. People should ideally swim where there are others to supervise them, as this may reduce the risk of drowning, as there will be someone to rescue or raise an alarm if a swimmer gets into difficulty.
SPATA also say that “being able to swim from an early age can open the door to incredible experiences” later in life. “Time spent at a swimming class can bring years of new opportunities as you grow.”
As well as being “essential for any watersports such as diving, canoeing, jet skiing, snorkelling, rowing, kitesurfing and wakeboarding,” being able to swim competently could eventually save your life.