Trafford Leisure’s CEO Jo Cherrett has voiced concerns during Drowning Prevention Week (June 19 – 26 June) for the safety of children this summer, after thousands of youngsters in the area have missed out on learning to swim during the pandemic.
The concerns are backed by an All-Party Parliamentary Group for Swimming and the National Governing body, Swim England, which published predictions that one million children could leave primary school in the next five years unable able to swim the 25 metres required under the national curriculum.
Even before the pandemic, approximately one in four children could not swim the statutory length when they left primary school, and it is feared this number could rise to three in five children by the 2025/26 academic year.
Jo Cherrett, CEO, Trafford Leisure says: “My real worry is, there is going to be a generation of children who cannot swim – and that’s a tragedy. Learning to swim and water safety is a vital life skill. Swimming has numerous health and well-being benefits for us all, but beyond that it is a skill that could one day save a life.
“The sad reality is, although something to recognise, even swimming 25 metres is such a short distance, and does not make someone a strong, confident swimmer. Many kids who haven’t learnt to swim or who have dropped out of lessons early won’t want to admit to peers that they can’t swim well, and so may try to swim in waters where they could find themselves in trouble.
“Learning to swim before body image or peer pressure really kicks in is so important. Children need to be encouraged to keep at their swimming lessons, beyond being able to swim the 25 metres milestone, and to try and complete all Swim England’s eight levels.
We want young people to enjoy water – and to be safe when they visit beaches, rivers and pools.”
Trafford Leisure offers Rookie Lifeguard courses for children who have completed all their stages. This teaches children not only how to survive if they were in danger whilst in open water, but also how to save a friend. The course teaches young people how to
make rescues, survival skills, CPR and elements of first aid. There is also a natural progression for children that have completed their Rookie Lifeguard Course to become
future Lifeguards, which is an excellent part time job opportunity for teenagers whilst in further education.
As lockdown has eased and Trafford’s leisure centres have reopened, one of Cherrett’s main priorities is getting children back in the pool. Trafford Leisure teaches 7,000 children a week to swim, and currently offers swimming lessons right through from babies up to adults, following Swim England’s ‘Learn to Swim’ programme.
Rachel Alves, who is a mum of two boys aged 11 and nine, has been attending lessons with Trafford Leisure for the last six years. She says: “I wouldn’t send my children to have lessons anywhere else. The centre is local and I like to support the community leisure centre. The teachers are good, and they have adapted the lessons to support one of my son’s who has special needs. The staff really make the experience.
“It’s great to see how my kids have progressed with their lessons over the years. The Trafford Leisure programme has clear stages, so they feel motivated to persevere. The leisure centre has clear safety protocol in place, including a one-way system, which helps to keep the lessons and the facility hygienic and Covid-19 secure.
“As the boys have got older, I now even get a few minutes of ‘me time’ using the gym whilst they swim. Like so many children, my boys have missed out on swimming lessons during the pandemic, and I was a little anxious they wouldn’t want to return. But I needn’t have been concerned as they picked up where they left off. It was great to hear the children splashing in the water as they jumped back in.”
Trafford Leisure has introduced Covid-19 secure procedures at all its pools to keep both customers and staff safe, including reducing the size of some classes and staggering people’s arrival times to minimise contact in-between each lesson.
Cherrett says: “We are passionate about delivering high quality swimming lessons for our community, and our experienced team of teachers ensure the classes are always fun and entertaining, whilst in a safe and controlled environment. The great thing about children participating in swimming lessons is that it helps them to take part in other sports and progresses their general physical development and their overall health and wellbeing too.
“It’s never too late to learn to swim. Trafford Leisure also offers classes for grown-ups, as well as children. It’s great to know you are providing a skill for life, which will give both the parents and children peace of mind when they are in or close to water. We currently have space to welcome even more swimmers, so please contact our fantastic Swim Well team at: https://traffordleisure.co.uk/swimming-lessons