Three of British Swimming’s biggest names have pledged their support for a campaign which aims to ensure that all children leaving primary school in the UK in 2025 should be able to swim 25 metres.
Triple Olympic gold medal winner Adam Peaty, legendary Paralympian Ellie Simmonds and recently retired international swimmer and campaigner Michael Gunning have joined forces with Speedo, the Black Swimming Association, Swim England and Active Black Country, to highlight the growing issue that more and more children are unable to swim.
Driving change in the pool
1 in 4 children currently leave primary school unable to swim and this could, according to Swim England data, increase to 6 in 10 by 2025. To address this, Speedo is calling on the public to pledge their support, along with Adam, Ellie and Michael by signing a Change.org petition.
The petition calls on the UK Government to:
+ Ring-fence funding provided to schools for swimming lessons and include this as part of Ofsted inspections to ensure all children leave primary school able to swim.
+ Provide urgent support for swimming pool operators to remain open amid rising energy costs and to enable them to increase pool time for swimming lessons and train new teachers.
+ Invest in community engagement to reach community groups who may face cultural and systemic barriers to swimming.
Adam Peaty commented, “Swimming is a fundamental life skill and to hear that one in four children leave primary school without being able to swim is a truly shocking statistic which highlights the urgency needed to tackle this rapidly-growing issue which needs long-term, systemic change.”
Creating equity in the water is crucial
Research also shows that children who are unable to swim are more likely to come from ethnic minority and socially disadvantaged backgrounds – 80% of Black children and 78% of Asian children do not swim. It is estimated that more than half a million children from ethnic minority communities have missed out on swimming lessons due to the Covid-19 pandemic, further highlighting the stark inequalities that need to be addressed.
Competitive swimmer and ambassador for Birmingham 2022 Pride House, Michael Gunning, says: “Growing up as a mixed-race boy, I didn’t have a swimming hero who I felt I could truly relate to, and it can feel like a lonely place at the top sometimes. I had to overcome many barriers to become a professional athlete in the sport that I love, and my swimming journey hasn’t been an easy one.”
“One of the biggest barriers is undoubtedly the associated costs for many families and the easiest way to ensure they have access to the water is through school swimming lessons, which are vitally important for so many youngsters. It is crucial we do all we can to protect these lessons” says Ellie Simmonds
Global Brand Director at Speedo, Kev McFadyen said: “We are calling on the public, swimmers, coaches, teachers as well as other brands and organisations to pledge their support via our Change.org petition. And together we are calling on the UK Government to intervene – a move that will surely save lives.”
“In Adam Peaty, Ellie Simmonds and Michael Gunning we have the backing of some the UK’s most iconic swimmers, and we also stand shoulder-to-shoulder with these fantastic swim organisations in a shared mission to ensure that 1 in 4 does not become 6 in 10.”