THOUSANDS of Scottish youngsters are to be given the chance to learn to swim – with the added boost of building an enduring legacy of happier and healthier young people who can go on to achieve their full potential.
Scottish Water has agreed to continue its partnership with Scottish Swimming to support the national Learn to Swim programme, which has been developed to help children of all ages and abilities to become confident, safer and competent swimmers.
The framework – which has Scotland’s swimming superstars, Olympic medallist Duncan Scott and Paralympic medallist Toni Shaw as its Ambassadors – is being delivered across Scotland by 36 Leisure Trusts and Aquatic Providers in more than 160 pools.
Duncan and Toni joined up for the first time to mark the partnership extension at a celebration event with scores of young swimmers at the Barrhead Foundry in East Renfrewshire.
The extension to the partnership will see 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.
Research into the cognitive benefits of young people who take swimming lessons has shown that they achieve a range of developmental milestones much earlier than those who don’t, regardless of their gender or background.
And children who are members of a swimming club and who compete regularly, develop core competencies – such as target-setting, teamwork and leadership attributes – which can help them greatly in their future careers and lives.
Brian Lironi, Director of Corporate Affairs with Scottish Water, said with the additional benefits that learning to swim can bring, the programme has the potential to leave its mark for decades to come.
Brian said: “We are delighted to support a new generation of children who are safer, happier, and healthier through the delivery of the Learn to Swim lessons and our partnership with Scottish Swimming.
“More than 100,000 children from Shetland to the Scottish Borders got involved during the first four years of the programme, which is incredible. We know how excited they have been to get back into the country’s swimming pools, meet up with their friends, have fun and be inspired to learn a key life skill.
“The next chapter of Learn to Swim will build a real legacy for Scotland – improving water safety, and through working with schools and local authorities, giving children a real platform for success in the pool and out.”
Euan Lowe, Chief Executive Officer at Scottish Swimming, said: “Being able to swim provides children and young people not only with essential life skills to keep them safe in and around water, but the skills, capabilities and attributes that they pick up helps them to achieve their full potential in life.
“Continuing our valuable partnership with Scottish Water means that not only can more children learn to be confident and competent swimmers, we can create a generation of happy, healthy and active young people.”
Duncan Scott, who became the first British athlete to win four medals at an Olympic Games when he won Gold and three Silvers in the pool at Tokyo 2020, joined youngsters at Barrhead Foundry leisure centre to celebrate the extension of the programme.
Duncan said: “I am delighted to see Scottish Water extend their partnership with Scottish Swimming in the Learn to Swim framework. The partnership will continue to raise awareness for learning to swim as a life skill and offer a great opportunity for the next generation coming through. I look forward to being the brand ambassador for this ever exciting framework.”
Toni said: “It is so exciting to see Scottish Water extend their partnership with Scottish Swimming for Learn to Swim. Learning to swim is one of the best things a child can do, providing not only a life skill but countless opportunities to have fun and be safe and confident around water. I am so proud to continue as brand ambassador for Learn to Swim in Scotland.”
The Learn to Swim Framework is aimed at youngsters from birth to 11-years-old 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 with an estimated 30,000 school pupils also being offered swim lessons over the same period.
Around 2,500 children participate in East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure Trust’s swimming lessons, offered at their four pools in the region. The Trust has partnered with Scottish Swimming and recently invested in the Learn to Swim programme.
Anthony McReavy, Chief Executive of East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure Trust, said: “It was brilliant to welcome two of Scotland’s most celebrated athletes, Duncan and Toni, to Barrhead Foundry’s pool. Enthusiastic swimmers from our Learn to Swim programme were given the opportunity to ask the athletes questions about their careers as Duncan and Toni shared their top tips and experiences.
“Swimming is hugely popular in East Renfrewshire and we’re proud to have invested significantly in our swimming programme, upskilling all swimming teachers to ensure the delivery of the best quality programme for young swimmers and teaching essential life skills for the long term.
“This session was inspirational for all involved and we’ve no doubt that this visit will spark a new wave of enthusiasm for learning to swim.”
More information on the Learn to Swim Framework can be found on the dedicated website: https://learntoswim.scot/
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