Posts Tagged ‘swimming lessons’


The Guardian reports: 1 August 1923: In a neighbourhood where “free access” to deep water is always possible for babies and toddlers, it is essential for all children to learn swimming.

“Every year children are drowned here,” said my friend, the schoolmistress, as we walked along the land side of the wharves, where steep little passages run down at intervals to the river. “Last week a mother brought me her little son in the hope of getting him into my infant class, though he is under five. ‘The other one drowned in the dock,’ she told me; ‘I shouldn’t like to lose this one, too!’”

…I found it a pleasant experience to pursue a chattering group of forty little girls, of standard five upwards, along the sultry sweltering streets into a delightfully cool swimming bath. Every Monday this particular elementary school goes there for a twenty minutes’ lesson from a swimming mistress of apparently inexhaustible patience who told me she had already given ten such lessons that day. More…

See alos: From Lifesaving Education to None At All



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The Eastern Daily Press reports: A fight is underway to make sure swimming remains a priority in education, as pool upkeep and transport costs stretch schools’ already squeezed budgets.


Spiralling repair and maintenance costs have forced many schools to close their pools, while transporting pupils to and from lessons can be a costly burden in the tough climate.

It has seen school swimming slide across the country, with Swim England figures from 2015 showing that just 52pc of key stage two children are able to swim 25 metres unaided – despite it being a national curriculum requirement.

Our Summer of Swimming campaign, launched last week, has highlighted how swimming participation, though still the nation’s favourite sport, has dwindled.

And with research showing that children who don’t learn at primary school are more likely to become one of the one in five adults unable to swim, efforts are ongoing to ensure all children earn their water wings.


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The Telegraph reports:

One in five adults cannot swim, survey warns

Up to nine million adults – 20 per cent of men and 22 per cent of women over the age of 14 – are unable to swim, according to the Amateur Swimming Association

…up to nine million men and women aged over 14 in England have never learned to swim, with the highest number of non-swimmers above 65.

The group’s study, which also suggested that 2.13 million adults want to learn to swim, calls on policy makers to ensure swimming is accessible to all.

It is interesting to note that around 16 per cent, or 5.2 million adults in England, can be described as “functionally illiterate”.

By the standards set in Roman times this means that one fifth of the UK adult population remain ‘ignorant’ despite compulsory education!

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Swimming in the River Cam

In an article about Jack Overhill his summertime childhood experiences are an inspiration:

“Jack was a dedicated swimmer, becoming the most celebrated river-swimmer in Cambridge. Having entered the water aged one he first swam when he was three and by the age of four was a clever diver. Paramount Sound News could not persuade the shy young Jack to talk when they filmed his prowess. He was later one of the self-styled New Town Water Rats who almost lived at the swimming place on Sheep’s Green in the summer.”

“He swam all year, rarely missing a day and won the first of many trophies when 19, by then a lean six-footer . In winter, Jack would often break through the ice to take a dip, such was his enthusiasm. Jack founded the successful Granta Swimming Club in 1934. In his unpublished book, “Swimming for Fun”, written at the suggestion of his friend Neil Bell, he embodied all his experiences with swimming.”

Discover more about swimming in Cambridge…

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Malcolm Tozer Reviews: Hung Out to Dry: Swimming and British Culture, in the Spring Edition of Physical Education Matters.


It was by chance that your reviewer came across this privately published social history of swimming and the evident enthusiasm of its author – devotee of outdoor bathing and self-taught historian – prompted the request for a copy. Chris Ayriss’s idiosyncratic approach is as refreshing as the waters he loves and the ebb and flow of his story matches that of meandering stream; you never know what is round the next bend.

The Blue Lagoon Bristol 1937

The book spans ancient and modern, from the Roman occupation of Britain right up to the health-and-safety madness of present times. On the journey we meet bathing to satisfy superstitious, ritualistic, religious, medical, sensual, sexual, naturist, hygienic and escapist needs – amongst others – sometimes with the active approval of society, sometimes not. It would seem that skinny-dipping just for fun was never as simple as that.

Henleaze Lake Bristol 1932

Bathing’s real boom began in the mid-Victorian period when Thomas Cook introduced cheap rail excursions to seaside resorts; week-long factory closures saw whole towns decamp to Skeggie or Clacton; Billy Butlin’s promise of a week’s holiday for a week’s wage led to the popularity of holiday camps; major resorts competed for the biggest lidos and the highest diving boards; and inland cities provided their own riverside beaches and swimming lakes. Some marvellous photographs show packed crowds on Blackpool beach in 1949, with no room to swing a spade; sand-castle building in the shadow of London’s Tower Bridge in 1939; a sardine-jammed lido in Bristol in 1937; and fantastic multiple diving platforms at Henleaze and Weston-super-Mare.

London-on-Sea 1939

The demise from the 1960s was sudden: it came with the introduction of cheap flights to Mediterranean beaches; the delights of sun and sangria; the building of corporation indoor swimming complexes; riverside landowners denying right of access; health concerns about polluted rivers, canals and lakes; and safety worries over unsupervised bathing. Recent evidence from my outlook in Cornwall suggests that a partial recovery is underway – helped by the economic recession, the popularity of ‘staycations’, and the ready availability of wetsuits. Is the bucket-and-spade holiday back in fashion?

Wild Swimming

All this is told in a jaunty style. A bevy of blurred boys’ bare bottoms may see the book banned from school libraries, but there is much here to inform and entertain all who have ever delighted in a midnight skinny-dip – outdoors, of course.

Hung Out to Dry: Swimming and British Culture, by Chris Ayriss, Lulu.com, 2012, £14.50, ISBN 978-0-557-12428-2

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Children swimming in the river at Thetford, August 28, 1964

Children swimming in the river at Thetford, August 28, 1964

The promise of summer is just arround the corner. Did you enjoy happy summer days like this?

If you did you probably still do when you get the chance, but in the UK we are facing resistance when it comes to river and lake swimming.

No one wants a happy day to end in tragedy, but with good education – outdoor swimming can be fun.

Lets all swim safe this summer!

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The river at Earlham Park was dammed and made into a swimming pool.

Wensum Park during the 1930s

Wensum Park during the 1930s

River and lake swimming made safe for park users. How times have changed!





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