Making a splash: How can children catch up on missed swimming lessons?

  • Charlotte Horner reports

5 million swimming lessons were lost in public pools during the pandemic, with 2 million children missing out.

The figures come from Swim England and CEO Jane Nickerson says if private lessons were also taken into consideration then the figures would be "much higher".

It's concerning because the research shows the lack of lessons means that almost a quarter of a million MORE children are now unable to swim 25m.

Siblings Taliyah, Taraj and T’Nieah from Birmingham have missed out on months of swimming - but they're finally back and enjoying their lessons.

For their mum it's a relief to see them back in the water.

"They've obviously missed a whole year and I can see them impact that it's had" says Parise Pinnock.

She says the uncertainty of lockdown hasn't helped matters as the kids "don't know if they'll be coming back next week or if the world is going to close".

The boys say swimming is "everything" to them. Credit: ITV News Central

Brothers Ethan, 10, and Jonah, 7, from Worksop are also excited to be back in the pool.

"It keeps you active and it's really fun" says Ethan, "I just enjoy it very much, it's just everything for me".

Jonah says he likes it when he moves up stages and it's important because "if you're on your own in the sea you can swim back to shore".

Their dad, Rich, says it's a worry that the boys have missed out on so much swimming, but he's happy to see them back.

Swim England has launched its Love Swimming campaign, working with parents and schools to get more kids back in the pool.

Jane says they are working with the Department of Education to provide "top up lessons" through schools.

"Formal lessons are really important" she adds, "but those in deprived areas probably can't afford to send their children to private swimming lessons - so that's why it's really important that schools now top up top up swimming. It is part of the curriculum."

But, she says, those who can afford private swimming lessons should sign their children up at their local pool, or take them into family sessions.

Some of the UK's top swimmers are also on board to help encourage more children to get back into swimming.

World record holder Adam Peaty from Uttoxeter in Staffordshire, who trains in Loughborough, says we have a "right to be worried".

Olympic medalist Adam Peaty says action needs to be taken to avoid losing the "next generation of swimmers". Credit: PA

He says that it will be impossible to know for certain how the pandemic has impacted the next generation of swimmers until it is "too late" - and action should be taken sooner rather than later.

Rebecca Adlington OBE, Olympic gold medalist and the most successful female British swimmer, recently launched a campaign encouraging more young girls to get into swimming.

She says that people need to "stop thinking of swimming as just a sport" and instead look at it as a "life skill".

"We have still been walking and going out by canals, rivers or whatever it is and those dangers are still there" she adds.

Commonwealth Games champion and Tokyo Olympics hopeful Sarah Vasey, from Derby, is also supporting the message.

She says it's why the Olympic Games are so important and she's looking forward to inspiring the next generation of competitive swimmers.

Swimming teachers say it's great to see kids back in the pool. Credit: ITV News Central

Taliyah, Taraj, T’Nieah, Ethan and Jonah are back in class making a splash - Its hoped Swim England's campaign will do the same.