Thousands of children encouraged into water by swimming programme

A swimming programme backed by Commonwealth champion Duncan Scott has helped thousands of children into the pool.

The Scottish Swimming scheme has involved more than 75,000 children, with the majority of parents praising the impact.

A report on the programme found more than two-thirds of parents said they have seen their child’s swimming skills improve, while 99% believe it is important for their child to learn to swim.

A further 80% said their children are enjoying lessons, with 70% expressing praise for the quality of teaching.

In addition, 95% of leisure managers, such as swimming development officers and swimming co-ordinators, believe the programme has helped increase the number of children taking lessons.

Scott, who won six medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia – the most by a Scottish athlete at a single Games – is an ambassador for the initiative, which is being supported by Scottish Water.

He took part in lessons in Troon, South Ayrshire, earlier this year at the same pool where he learned to swim as a young boy.

He said: “My dad would take myself and my sister to the pool in Troon every Sunday where he would teach us how to swim.

“My earliest memory is of my dad teaching my sister and I how to float on our backs, the very basics of backstroke. I loved learning how to swim. Mike and Marie, the two coaches at South Ayrshire Swimming club, taught me well and got me to learn how to streamline.”

The project aims to reach 100,000 children across Scotland by 2020.

Inclusion and accessibility will be a focus of the scheme in 2019 to ensure children from deprived backgrounds can learn to swim regardless of their age, ability or background.

Forbes Dunlop, chief executive of Scottish Swimming, said: “Learning to swim should be fun, enjoyable and memorable. If children enjoy it from the beginning they are more likely to continue in the sport.

“It is very satisfying to see the high levels of support and satisfaction from parents who are recognising the quality of the lessons which will equip their children with essential life skills.”

Brian Lironi, of Scottish Water, said: “Scotland has many hundreds of miles of waterways – rivers, lochs, reservoirs and shoreline – and being able to swim obviously enables people to enjoy these environments and to do so safely.”