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School swimming now setting the standard; More kids than ever in the pool.

Byline: TIM JOHNSON

IN THE space of six years the success rate of youngsters learning to swim in Liverpool Primary Schools has been transfor med.

In 2006, a low water mark was reached, when it was discovered only 40-per cent of 11-year-olds, in the city, could manage 25m - usually a length of the pool.

These days this figure is surfing the big wave, with an impressive 88-per cent of swimmers achieving the standard. The success has attracted 100 schools, with around 1,100 children, including almost 100 disability swimmers, signing up for the programme.

Fourteen of these schools managed to achieve a remarkable 100-per cent success rate, in year 6, and 70+ broke the 90 per cent barrier.

'We are all very proud of the achievements of the programme," said School Swimming Officer Niki Davies. "It has had a dramatic effect on helping children to swim in Liverpool.

"The children entering the programme are getting younger and younger, these days it runs from the age of 3-11 years old. All the participating schools must be thanked for their support.

"There is also a water safety element to the curriculum. This is not only about swimming pools, but also teaches safe practice around beaches, lakes and canals or wherever there is possible water danger.

"At the moment the programme is mainly used for children in key stage two, but a long term aim may be to open it up to secondary schools.

"There are real career opportunities in swimming these days. Also it is a healthy exercise, which addresses the problems of well being, obesity and basic fitness."

The swimming programme is based around six pools: Austin Rawlinson, Ellergreen, Everton Park, Park Road and Liverpool Aquatic Centre. The cost for a ten-week unit of work is PS40 per child. This includes coach transport, two swimming teachers per 30 swimmers, lifeguard and emergency medical cover. Further details from Nicola.davies2@liverpool.gov.uk Liverpool's Senior School Improvement Officer, Stephen Tiffany, believes the programme could benefit children throughout the globe. He said: "Swimming is an essential part of every child's physical development and can lead to lifelong participation, as a recreational swimmer, competitor, coach or lifeguard.

"Liverpool has a strong association with the Olympics and is proud to be associated with champions including, Steve Parry, Michael Rock and Fran Halsall. These achievements have only been possible by establishing strong partnerships and this is a model that could be replicated in other cities across the world."

The fourteen schools to achieve a 100 per cent swimming success rate are: Belle Vale, Belvedere, Childwall Valley, Christian Fellowship, Hunt's Cross, Matthew Arnold, Our Lady Bishop Eton, Phoenix, Springwood Heath, St Charles, St Finbar's, St Gregory's, Wavertree and Windsor.

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MAKING A SPLASH: Pupils at Dovecot Primary School enjoy their time in the pool
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 23, 2012
Words:468
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