For International Learn to Swim Week, STA (Swimming Teachers’ Association) has published the findings of a new report*, which shows that 70% of parents think swimming is the most important sport for children to learn – with 62% saying its an invaluable life skill.

Parenting on Female First

Parenting on Female First

However, while this research suggests parents understand the importance of swimming, the reality is a lot different with only a third of parents saying they take their children swimming at least once a week, with membership costs and inflexible pool opening times being cited as the main reasons.

Furthermore, only 8% of the parents surveyed by STA said that their child has swimming lessons through their school. This reveals that there is now an even greater responsibility on parents to ensure their child can swim and is water safe.

Zoe Cooper, STA’s Director and a mum of two children under 5 years old, said: “As parents, we know how important it is for our children to learn how to swim and the research positively confirms this, but we now must start to bridge the gap between knowing and doing, and prioritise swimming – ideally through structured lessons, but also socially as a family.”

MORE: Seven reasons to take your baby swimming

So why is learning to swim so important?

Our children are our most precious gifts and as parents we want to make sure they are always happy, healthy and safe; making sure they are confident and safe in and around the water is an integral part of this.

Swimming, like no other sporting activity, is a key life skill and one that every child should have the opportunity to learn - and it’s never too early to start – in fact the STA say the younger the better.

Ensuring your child gains positive experiences from the water from a young age will help them to feel safe and secure, and boost their confidence.

Swimming is also proven to help babies not only to develop physically, but emotionally, intellectually and socially too, whilst equipping them with key safety and safe hold skills in the water. It keeps babies active, fit and healthy too, and research has shown that swimming can have a positive impact on baby’s sleeping and eating patterns.

Once your child is old enough to start structured swimming lessons unaided (without a parent / carer in the water), it is also important to continue to support them; be consistent and offer praise and motivation at every stage of their swimming journey.

Outside of swimming lessons, prioritise family time in the pool; not only to support a child’s lesson progression, but because of all the social, health and fitness benefits it can bring to a family. And, it is one of only a few activities where families can bond, and play and join in with together. Through play, children gain confidence and learn so much without even knowing.

Plus, it opens up a world of new opportunities for young learners. Learning how to swim means your child can enjoy playing with family and friends on holiday, and participate in other fun aquatic activities as they get older like water polo, snorkelling, sailing and much more!

To help parents, STA has created a free to download booklet, which shares advice and tips on how you can support your child’s swimming development and have lots of fun at the pool.

For further information visit

*The research for STA was carried out online by Opinion Matters throughout February 2019 amongst a panel resulting in more than 1000 Parents with children under 16 responding.

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