Lifesavers: teach all children to swim

The Swedish Life Saving Society (SLS) is demanding that swimming proficiency be a part of school curriculum by law. While swimming is on offer for students in grade five, SLS says it is not enough.

Summer has just started and already some 10 people have drowned in the country’s lakes and seas. SLS said it wants a new, stricter swimming law in place that will force schools to teach students how to handle themselves in the water, Svenska Dagbladet has reported.

Sweden’s National Agency for Education already reported that many schools don’t have the ability to teach kids to swim. The Agency is now working on a definition for swimming proficiency that allows the government to set standards for what kids should be able to accomplish in the water.

Until Sweden sets a national standard, individual districts are responsible for defining what swimming ability means.

The new definition could mirror the SLS description that says a person should be able to go under water, come up, and then swim 200 meters in deep water, 50 meters of which would be on the back.

The ability to swim could end up being a class question if standards are not set at the national level, said Karin Brandt, spokeswoman at SLS.

Swimming instruction could be complicated due to cultural and religious differences between students. A portion of parents don’t want their daughters swimming together with boys, while some think being able to swim is unnecessary.

“If the schools neglect to teach their students to swim, the students have to learn outside of school,” she said, according to Dagens Nyheter. “Not everyone has 500 kronor for summer swim school, and then it becomes a class question.”