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Swimming - 23. October 2007.


22nd October 2007

Top Up Swimming provides intensive coaching over a two-week period to ensure that more children are able to swim the minimum standard of 25m by the end of Key Stage 2, or Years 3-6.

With funding from the DCSF (formerly the Department for Education and Skills) the ASA alongside the School Sports Partnerships has been able to ensure that 44,246 children have now received Top Up Swimming sessions in its first year with 100,000 participants expected by July 2008.

With drowning being the third highest cause of accidental death in children, lessons such as these will help lower the national figures while developing water confidence and teaching important life skills.

Sessions are normally delivered with 10 lessons over a 10-day period for a minimum of 30 minutes each day.

The programme has helped a number of schools around the country to significantly increase the number of children achieving the national curriculum standard.

Stoke Park Junior School in Hampshire experienced success with the scheme and a high proportion of children exceeded the assessment criteria with a number of pupils swimming 200m after their intensive tuition.

Pupils who did not meet the standard were deemed, however, to have become more confident and at ease in the water.

A total of 419 School Sport Partnerships have now begun to deliver the programme and ASA PE School Sports Links Manager Jon Glenn is pleased with the results so far.

"The ASA has received encouraging feedback from the programme and we're delighted with its progress so far. There are many reasons why children don't achieve the Key Stage 2 standard such as water phobia and body image issues but Top Ups has enabled many of these children to overcome these fears," said Glenn.

"We must now continue to work closely with the School Sport Partnerships to ensure we reach our target of 100,000 schoolchildren by July 2008 and continue to offer the highest quality programme."

ASA Chief Executive David Sparkes the reiterated importance of school swimming to children for a healthier lifestyle.

"It is critically important today that children receive the right introduction to swimming through schools, "said Sparkes.

"This is especially important to the fight against childhood obesity which is a key Government target. Top Ups is demonstrating it can target to hard-to-reach children in society and give them an important introduction to a more active lifestyle."

DCSF Minister for PE and School Sport Kevin Brennan was keen to express his thoughts.

"Swimming is a life-long skill which is why the Department is keen to support swimming via the Top Up programme at a cost of £5.5 million. The Top Up programme has played its part in getting more children learning to swim towards the end of their primary school years.

"There are a host of reasons why children haven't learnt to swim through normal Curriculum lesson time, and so Top Up helps to provide that extra level of support. Without it, tens of thousands of children would still be non-swimmers."

By the end of Key Stage 2, children should be able to swim unaided for a sustained period of time over a distance of at least 25m and use recognised arm and leg actions on the front and back. Youngsters should also use a range of recognised strokes and personal survival skills speed and distance swimming challenges.
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