Borders children dived into the month of May by swimming with one of the most successful athletes at this year’s British Championships.
After the successful event in Hawick, which saw elite Scottish swimmer Duncan Scott spend the day with over 60 children on the Learn to Swim programme at Teviotdale Leisure Centre, charity Live Borders is calling for more pre-schoolers to sign up to lessons.
Amanda Blacklock, aquatics officer at Live Borders, said: “It was an afternoon to remember – there’s no doubt about that. The children were full of enthusiasm for the sport as they bounced out the leisure centre with photos and signatures from one of Scotland’s most celebrated sportsmen in hand.
“We now have space for more pre-schoolers to join the lessons, so we encourage anyone who’s interested to come forward, learn more about the classes and book their kids in before the spaces fill up.
“It’s a brilliant link with our commitment to people across the Borders being healthier, happier and stronger.”
There are already over 3000 Borders children participating in the Learn to Swim programme – and over 650 of them are under five years old.
They also got the chance to ask Duncan (21), who takes on the role of Learn to Swim Ambassador, for his advice on training and technique in an open Q&A session.
TheLearn to Swim programme teaches children of all abilities, starting from as young as early infancy. It is delivered by charity Live Borders, in partnership with Scottish Swimming and Scottish Water.
Duncan, who has won multiple awards over the past few years, including six medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia and Scottish Sportsperson of the Year 2018, said: “I had such a great day in Hawick. After competing in national events, it’s so nice to be able to come back to the grassroots and motivate those at the beginning of their swimming journey.”
Scottish Swimming and Scottish Water’s target is for the Learn to Swim programme to reach 100,000 children across Scotland by 2020. There are already more than 75,000 youngsters – including 5600 pre-school children – on the programme.
Ally Whike, performance director of Scottish Swimming, said: “Swimming is a fantastic sport – but it’s a key life skill, too. With an estimated 40 per cent of children unable to swim by the time they leave primary school, it’s crucial to roll out this national framework for Scotland.”
Brian Lironi, director of corporate affairs for Scottish Water, said: “In Scotland, we’re fortunate to have access to so much water – but, to be able to enjoy it safely, it is essential to learn to swim as early as possible.
“We’re proud to support the Learn to Swim programme, as it helps to build a confident and safe next generation of swimmers.
“It’s all about using the great water we have in Scotland to promote good health. That’s why we’re also encouraging young swimmers, like everyone, to stay hydrated – and top up from the tap to help fuel their day.”
The impact of the Scottish Swimming ‘s National Learn to Swim Framework, supported by Scottish Water, is huge – a recent study found a staggering approval from parents and managers tasked with delivering its objectives all over Scotland.
The Learn to Swim Framework helps to create quality Learn to Swim environments for children from birth upwards, where they can become competent, confident and safe swimmers, with opportunities to progress through the aquatic pathway and to swim for fun.