More than 2,000 Isle of Wight children, aged 7-14, are being given a unique opportunity this summer to learn vital life-saving skills aimed at keeping them safe in the water and on the beach.
Created by Swim England and the RNLI, the Swim Safe campaign provides free training for children on how to swim safely outdoors and what to do if they get into difficulty.
It’s the largest scheme of its type ever to come to the Isle of Wight and will see hour-long sessions run by qualified swimming instructors and lifeguards, supported by volunteers, teaching children on Sandown Beach weekdays from 20 July to 17 August.
First time on the Island
Swim Safe launched in Cornwall in 2013, but this is the first time it has been to the Isle of Wight and much of the drive to bring it to the island has been down to the RNLI Isle of Wight Lifeboat Board.
This is a unique organisation that helps support the Isle of Wight’s three RNLI lifeboat stations at Bembridge, Cowes and Yarmouth, RNLI lifeguards, the Inshore Lifeboat Centre and fund-raisers on the Island.
RNLI: “Will improve water safety right across the Island”
Peter Baxter, the RNLI’s Swim Safe coordinator on the Isle of Wight, said he was delighted the initiative was coming to the Island:
“For the past few years we have really been expanding the work of the Lifeboat Board on the Island to include coastal safety and education. Bringing Swim Safe to the Island, working alongside Swim England has been a major achievement for us and will improve water safety right across the Island.
“The Isle of Wight has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country and is a mecca for water sports and we want to make sure the children who live here are able to fully enjoy this natural resource.
“Swim Safe will teach them the vital skills they need to get the most our wonderful environment while being aware of the risks and how to stay safe.
“Children love swimming outdoors, but swimming in the sea, rivers or lakes is very different to swimming in a pool, where most children learn. Swim Safe is a free, fun activity that teaches kids lifelong skills that will help them enjoy open water safely.”
Places are free and can be booked online at swimsafe.org.uk (If you go to ‘Book a session’, IoW is second on the list, or go direct on: https://swimsafe.org.uk/locations/iow) and children only need to bring their swim suit and a towel.’ The sessions take place at Sandown Beach, where our RNLI lifeguards are based, and parents and carers are encouraged to stay during the session to find out more about making sure their children are safe at the beach and by the water.
Children aged 7–14 can take part if they can already swim at least 25 metres. Swim Safe provides wetsuits and swim hats for the sessions and children get a free goody bag and T-shirt.
Swim Safe and the RNLI would like to thank Southern Water for its financial support and the Isle of Wight Council for bringing the scheme to the Island’s schools where children are already benefiting from expert tuition.
Sessions for schools started this week on the Island and Yarmouth & Shalfleet Primary schools were visited on the beach by the Lord Lieutenant, Maj Gen Sir Martin White, the Chairman of Isle of Wight Council Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox and the Mayor of Sandown Town Council Cllr Jacqui Mereweather, supported by the Chairman of RNLI IW Lifeboat Board Robin Ebsworth and Swim Safe staff.