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Benefits of swimming for kids at school: a guide for parents

Swimming: it’s the only sport that saves lives, yet one in four children now leave primary school unable to swim. Find out why this vital skill helps your children in both school life and beyond.

By Gemma Wilcock | Last updated Jun 13, 2023

Speedo Swim United, swimming in schools for kids

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Children love swimming and it has numerous benefits for their physical and mental health. It’s also the only sport that can save their lives, and is an essential life skill for kids. However, research by Swim England shows that one in four children leave school without being able to swim, and this may worsen to six in ten by 2025. This is even more worrying when you consider that 25% of all primary school children are at risk of drowning.

Most at-risk individuals are from socially disadvantaged and ethnic minority backgrounds, with 80% of Black children and 78% of Asian children unable to swim. What’s more, the cost of living crisis is exacerbating the situation by causing pool closures, especially in poor areas.

The Speedo Swim United campaign aims to ensure that all children leaving primary school can self-rescue or swim by 2025. Speedo has already invested in inspiring over 2,500 children in the UK to swim and funded two-week intensive swim lessons through schools for over 1,200 children from disadvantaged communities. The program is now set to engage an additional 2,000 children in the West Midlands through pop up swimming pools to boost their confidence and water skills.

Alongside helping children to learn to swim, Speedo Swim United are campaigning to the UK government to intervene and take positive action to ensure all children leave school able to swim by 2025. They’re doing this via:

  • Ofsted: ring fencing funding provided to schools to swimming, and including this as part of Ofsted inspections.

  • Pools Energy Crisis: continued support to help pool operators remain open amid rising energy costs.

  • Community engagement: investing in community engagement to reach the community groups who may face cultural and systemic barriers to swimming.

Afterall, swimming isn’t just a fun activity, it can help children in their physical and social development too.

Sign the petition to show your support and read on to take a look at the benefits of swimming for kids.

Teaches them swim safety

Swimming lessons in school can save lives by teaching even the most confident swimmer how to get out of trouble in the water. The curriculum includes teaching different strokes such as front crawl, backstroke, and breaststroke, with the goal of enabling children to swim confidently, proficiently, and competently over a distance of at least 25 meters.

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“My son fell in a swimming pool on holiday and luckily I saw him and got him out or he would have drowned. I booked swimming lessons as soon as we got home.”


Additionally, swimming lessons in schools teach children how to be safe in and around water in different environments, such as beaches, lakes and canals. Children learn essential life-saving swim skills that they can use in an emergency situation.

It’s a great way to exercise

As children spend more time sitting down with gadgets and screens, it's important to prioritise exercise for their physical development. Swimming is a fun, low-impact cardio exercise that promotes physical health, including improved strength and endurance. Plus, swimming lessons teach various kicks and strokes that build muscle strength and enhance motor skills, particularly if started at a younger age.

It’s good for their health

Speedo Swim United, swimming in schools for kids

Swimming improves a child's cardiovascular and lung health by teaching them to control their breathing, increasing lung capacity, and enhancing heart-lung coordination. It also has mental health benefits, inducing a calming effect and releasing endorphins that reduce stress and anxiety while making children feel good.

Helps build their confidence

Learning to swim can be intimidating for children, but as they progress through lessons and acquire new skills, they become more confident and feel a sense of accomplishment.

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“It was the only afterschool activity I insisted the children couldn't give up.”


Swimming also teaches resilience, which can be applied both in and out of the water. Group swimming lessons also enhance social skills, and confident swimmers can enjoy splashing around with friends and family.

Opens the door to other activities!

Once your child is a confident swimmer there are so many other fun things they could do. Being confident in the water and knowing how to get themselves to safety will allow them to splash about in a swimming pool on holiday and also try other water-based activities. This could include kayaking, canoeing and scuba-diving.

MNer BackforGood agrees, sharing that swimming is “incredibly important, not only for the possibility of ever falling in / getting into trouble, but for years and years of enjoyment and pleasure - be that on holidays with family or entertaining themselves with mates at weekends and school holidays.” 

Helps them sleep better

Speedo Swim United, swimming in schools for kids

If your child is full of boundless energy then the best way to get rid of some of that is by doing some physical exercise, and swimming is a brilliant way of burning off some energy.

As they are using lots of different muscles to push and kick themselves through the water, your child should feel more tired on the days when they have a swimming lesson, so bedtime should be easier than normal!

Finally… It's fun!

Though learning to swim can be daunting for children, their confidence and proficiency will grow, leading to enjoyment of splashing around and playing with friends. Swimming is fun for all ages and abilities, providing not only water safety knowledge and physical and mental benefits, but also a long-lasting enjoyable activity.

Want to help save lives?

Join Ellie Simmonds, Adam Peaty and Michael Gunning by signing the Speedo Swim United petition, which is asking the UK Government to support the need for intervention and positive action. It is now approaching over 50,000 signatures, but they need more support to help save lives.

Five-time Paralympic gold medallist Ellie Simmonds, who recently appeared on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing said, “I was lucky enough to start swimming at the age of five and feel passionately that anyone regardless of ability or background has the right to develop their skills.

“Throughout my swimming career, and most recently on the dance floor, I’ve been committed to proving sport and physical activity is for everyone; I believe this should be the case in all sports. Swimming is massively beneficial to both our physical and mental well-being as well as being a basic survival skill and I’ll continue to work through the Speedo Swim United programme to tackle this critical issue. I ask the public to show their support by signing the petition”.

Breaststroke phenomenon Adam Peaty said: “This isn’t just about meeting curriculum requirements, it’s about physical and mental health and, most importantly, saving lives and safeguarding our children. We need the government to support campaigns and initiatives such as Speedo Swim United if we are to give ourselves the best chance of success in the future”.

You can find out more about Speedo Swim United at Discover Swim United at Speedo UK.

About Speedo

The world’s leading swimwear brand, Speedo® is passionate about life in and around the water, creating revolutionary new technologies, designs and innovations, and supports swimming from grass-roots through to the elite level.

In the 1920s Speedo made history with the Racerback: the world’s first non-wool suit. In 2008 Speedo redefined swimwear again with Fastskin® LZR RACER® - the fastest and most technologically advanced swimsuit ever created.

2011 saw Speedo unveil another world first with the Fastskin Racing System – a cap, goggles and suit designed to work together as one. Speedo is owned by Speedo Holdings B.V and distributed in over 170 countries around the world. To find out more visit: