This morning the Big Conversation on Mark Murphy's show on BBC Radio Suffolk was about swimming.
The Amateur Swimming Association have researched primary school children and their swimming abilities and amazingly they claim that one in three children cannot swim 25 metres unaided by the time they leave primary school. You can read more about the research here
As with many of Mark's Big Conversations, especially those concerning children and parenting, I had an opinion. Poor Mark must dread reading his tweets in the morning!
He was asking whose responsibility it is to ensure children can swim and without a doubt I believe it's the parents. There are various courses available for children if you don't want to actually teach them yourself but it's a big milestone and one that should be done with family if possible.
My children's school is lucky enough to have a swimming pool on the school grounds and during the latter part of the summer term the children get to go swimming but having helped out with these swimming sessions I can honestly say that by the time the children were changed and ready to go into the pool in their groups they had no more than 10 minutes of splashing about. There were occasions when the teacher had too much on to take them swimming so they missed out.
Swimming is not just about learning to swim a few yards. It's an extremely valuable life skill. My biggest fear in life is drowning, even though I can swim, and I won't let my children near to water until they can swim competently and know what to do in a crisis. I reluctantly let them go onto a boat last summer but my heart was racing the whole time. I just couldn't relax.
It got me thinking about learning to swim myself. My Dad taught me by throwing me into the pool, just the way he was taught! He took us to Beccles Lido and we loved it. It wasn't the way I would have chosen to start swimming but it worked!
Our school had a small (very cold!) outdoor pool and that's where I earned my first proficiency certificate.
For other lessons we were bussed over to Lowestoft Leisure Centre with another local primary school and in the summer we were taken to Beccles Lido where we had to swim in pyjamas and retrieve a brick from the floor of the pool. How many of you remember those?!
In 1986 my school took part in the Aquapack scheme, which taught us water safety and rescue skills. Living on the coast and spending most of our summer holidays at the beach meant that this was all useful and invaluable.
I'll certainly be making a huge effort to teach my children to swim from now on.
What are your memories of learning to swim? Are they fond or were you terrified?
Do your children have swimming lessons at school?