Local schools unite to tackle swimming crisis

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Drenched Mini Water Polo, Russell’s Swim School and Windlesham House School are uniting to provide more opportunities for children to learn to swim.

In recent years Windlesham and Russell’s have provided Top Up swimming for Six local schools in the area, which was launched pre-pandemic to support year 5 and 6 children that do not meet the minimum curriculum swimming requirement.

Now, in partnership with Drenched, they have launched a new initiative to support Thomas a Becket Junior School with a week of intensive lessons in May for children in year 3.

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Founder of Russell’s Swim School, Russell Clough said: “We’ve been collaborating with Drenched and Windlesham House School for a number of years now, and having delivered swimming lessons for over 20 years myself, I have seen first-hand the decline in swimming standards, which is down to number of factors some outside of our control. The collaboration with Thomas a Becket is focussed on younger children, so it’s all about accessibility, inspiration and setting the children on the right path to build on the skills they learn during the week.”

Thomas a Becket, Russell's Swim School & Drenched Mini Water Polo PartnershipThomas a Becket, Russell's Swim School & Drenched Mini Water Polo Partnership
Thomas a Becket, Russell's Swim School & Drenched Mini Water Polo Partnership

In fact, a pre-pandemic report identified more than 3.4 million seven to 11-year-olds in England were failing to meet minimum standards and 96 per cent of youngsters were stopping lessons too early. The Swim England report at the time noted that this figure had been made worse by the pandemic and in recent years the fact over 400 pools in the UK have closed since 2010 is something Russell’s and Drenched are fully aware of, Drenched founder Matthew White said: “We’re aware that our role within the community is not merely to provide a swimming lesson service. Our role is to champion pool-based activity, inspire and stimulate parents to get their children involved in swimming while also using programmes like Water Polo to keep them on their swim journey for much longer. Initiatives like the one with Thomas a Becket can to make swimming more accessible, create awareness and ultimately encourage greater participation.”

Windlesham House School will be providing free pool time and mini buses and Drenched and Russell’s will provide the staff in what everyone expects will be a fantastic week building water confidence, safety and swimming skills for almost 100 local school children.