MEMBERS OF Scotland’s Commonwealth Games swimming team joined primary school children for a lesson in the pool to launch a campaign aimed at increasing the number of youngsters taking up the sport.
Scottish Swimming is calling for every child to be given the opportunity to learn to swim before they leave primary school.
The governing body said recent research suggests around 15,000 to 20,000 children in Scotland are going to secondary school unable to swim.
It said delivery of school swimming lessons differs between each local authority, and it has now launched a campaign called #everychildcanswim.
Ahead of a reception at the Scottish Parliament, 40 children from Pirniehall Primary School in Edinburgh were joined by members of Team Scotland for their lesson at the city’s Royal Commonwealth Pool.
Forbes Dunlop, chief executive at Scottish Swimming, said: “Swimming is the sport for all, the sport for life. Learning to swim at an early age sets a positive foundation towards a lifetime of participation and enjoyment in a variety of water sports and aquatic activities.
“We are delighted to be given the opportunity to share our vision and campaign on such a platform and we hope to secure the appropriate backing, which will support our continued efforts to provide not only swimming in schools, but also offer quality training to local authorities to help deliver the programme.”
Kathryn Johnstone, who will compete in the breast stroke event at the Glasgow Games this summer, said: “The message is that swimming is fun but it’s also an important life skill with added health benefits.
“Being at the age they are, they have the potential to achieve what we have. We train here six times a week, so to have the opportunity for them to come and swim at this facility for them is brilliant.”
The Scottish Government has supported the delivery of school swimming lessons in the last four years through funding of the Swimming Top Up Programme, which amounts to an investment of £1.8 million.
Sport Secretary Shona Robison said: “The Commonwealth Games is only months away and this year is an excellent opportunity to inspire a generation of swimmers. I share the ambitions of Scottish Swimming to leave a lasting legacy from the Games and for every child to have the opportunity, facilities and the support to learn to swim.”
Conservative MSP Liz Smith, who hosted the reception, said: “The statistics which show that possibly just over a third of Scottish children cannot swim when they leave primary school is a stark reminder of just how much work we have to do to make this a universal provision.
“Swimming is an essential part of personal fitness. It is also fun and a great way of making new friends and boosting community activity within local pools and leisure centres.”