After a successful test run in the Rostov region, a Russian council has made recommendations that swimming be incorporated into the educational system country-wide in a partnership between the public and private sectors.
Similarly, the Canadian province of Quebec has given the go-ahead this week to expand its own pilot program to provide basic swimming skills to 3rd graders under the moniker of “Swim to Survive”.
These two decisions are a part of a growing trend by global governments to expand investment in water safety education as a routine part of childhood education. In late 2011, Tanzania began a push for the same.
Swimming education is already a part of the school curriculum in countries across Europe, including perhaps most famously the Netherlands, where breaststroke in Dutch is referred to as “schoolslag,” or “school stroke”. The trend, however, is just now coming to North America, and isn’t even being touched yet in the United States.
The high cost of insurance (and the threat of litigation against the school districts) have scared away any hint at incorporating swimming into existing physical education programs, so instead million-dollar swimming facilities lie empty for most of the school day, and then run into overcrowding in the late afternoons and evenings.
It’s great to see so many countries catch on to the trend. Among children, drowning ranks stunningly high on the list of causes of death, which is a shame given how easy it is to prevent. As compared to the money poured into, for example, treating and researching childhood diseases, a few months of swim lessons are a relative bargain.