As a new academic year gets underway the nation’s swimming crisis threatens to worsen, with recent research from the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) showing that only 50% of children are able to swim. With many schools needing to cut costs, swimming is often bearing the brunt of these tough times.

A new scheme launched by SkillsActive, the Sector Skills Council for Active Leisure, Learning and Well-Being, will ensure that swimming classes are run by trained professionals. This new initiative, the Register of Aquatic Professionals (RAPs), will make sure that funds are not at risk of being squandered by employing unaccredited swimming teachers that endanger swimmers and are ineffective in teaching correct techniques.

RAPs hosts its official launch event on Thursday 19th September at the Greenwich Leisure Ltd owned Oasis Sports Centre swimming pool as research from the ASA shows that half of primary school children can’t swim the length of a pool. And with resources tight as schools continue with compulsory swimming lessons, there’s an increasing need for swimming professionals to be fit for purpose and value for money.

Created in partnership with the ASA, The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) UK and Swimming Teachers’ Association (STA), RAPs provides a system of regulation to ensure that individuals working in the aquatic industry meet agreed National Occupational Standards (NOS) and best practice guidelines. It will tackle head on the concerns about safety in the water because all those on the register will be fully qualified and accredited.

British Olympic bronze medal swimmer Steve Parry will host the official opening of a new register that will push swimming to the forefront of the public’s minds and make it safer to get involved in the activity.

He said, “The Register of Aquatic Professionals will go a long way to strengthen the credibility in the aquatic industry. We can be assured that those on this Register are fully qualified and hold the latest, most relevant qualifications.

Swimming Pool by Rufino Uribe via Wikimedia Commons

Swimming Pool by Rufino Uribe via Wikimedia Commons

Stuart Wilson, Register Lead for RAPs, added, “The dangers associated with swimming are very real, not only for children but also for adults. We want to encourage people to have fun in the water, but we want that to be a safe endeavour. RAPs is an initiative that will instil added confidence in anybody that wants to be taught to swim. When working with a RAPs qualified professional, the public can be assured that they are in safe hands whilst they learn.”

As a compulsory part of the national curriculum in schools, the need for fully qualified teachers both in and outside of schools remains a priority because many children haven’t learnt to swim properly.

RAPs will provide verification that those working in the sector are fully qualified to perform their role. It will support the training needs and career development of those working in related roles, including; swimming teachers, lifeguards, pool managers and pool plant operators.

Steve continued, “Ensuring there is quality and professionalism throughout this industry is a must, and I’m delighted that the Register of Aquatic Professionals is actively addressing this major issue. Employers can now easily identify the best qualified staff, and the public, especially parents, can rest easy in the knowledge that those working in this industry are up to the task.”

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