LEN Identifies Key Figures In Learn To Swim Program Development With Recent Report

The LEN Learn To Swim (LTS) Commission has released its first report updating the committee’s progress since coming together in February 2022 when the European governing body for aquatic sports elected new leadership.

The commission, whose goal is to raise awareness of drowning prevention and increase the number of Europeans able to swim safely, issued a comprehensive survey to the LEN’s 52 member federations, with the results helping provide key insights into areas that need to be addressed to further the development of LTS. 51 of 52 federations responded to the survey, which was issued in September.

Program Delivery

The results of the survey found the following results regarding how federations are offering their LTS programs.

  • 19 countries have a government-led LTS program, while 16 federations have their own LTS program.
  • 24 countries have a school-led system, but it’s only mandatory on the school curriculum in 18 countries.
  • 12 countries have programs running outside of school.
  • There are relatively small numbers of LTS for babies (10) and adults (6).

25 federations reported that there is no monitoring of how LTS programs are delivered.

The survey also found that while 80 percent of countries have swimming in the school curriculum, it’s only mandatory in 41 percent of them.

Key Challenges

Lack of instructors, indoor facilities and funding were three key areas of concern identified.

  •  32 federations rated a lack of instructors as being moderate to very important.
  • 22 federations answered that they probably, or definitely, do not have enough indoor facilities, with only six federations saying they definitely had enough.
  • 29 federations identified funding/high cost as being moderate to very important.

Moving Forward

The LTS Commission identified four key pillars in helping develop a roadmap for the future: promotion, programs, standards and knowledge.

The commission’s priority action for 2023 is to agree to a common definition of swimming and water safety competence. A working group has been tasked with developing these definitions and then following up with a recommended pedagogical approach to achieving the defined competencies.

The proposal will be presented at a conference of interested stakeholders for discussion and approval in the summer of 2023.

Furthermore, an abstract proposal will run at this year’s Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science (ECSS), which is scheduled to take place July 4-7 in Paris.

“One of the most important strategic goals of LEN is to set up a robust and sustainable Learn to Swim program, working closely with our federation partners and other stakeholders,” said LEN President Antonia Silva. “There is much work to be done but the survey has given us a great insight into the challenges of learning to swim across Europe. We know the barriers that we face, and we look forward to working together to break down those barriers.

“Our combined efforts will not only reduce drownings but nurture our future talent and improve the opportunities for our children to learn the life skill that is swimming.”

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About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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