With the World Health Organisation’s Ten Actions to Prevent Drowning fresh in all our minds, our campaign to encourage the roll-out of survival swimming throughout the Commonwealth is certainly one of the most important initiatives of our 125th Anniversary year.
Survival swimming is already established in several Commonwealth countries and is a proven method to prevent drowning. For example, in St Lucia, 21 of the country’s 24 swimming and lifesaving instructors have committed to teaching ‘swim to survive’.
Mastering three basic skills gives people a much improved chance of surviving an unexpected fall into deep water:
- Roll into deep water and surface with the head above water
- Any action to keep the head above water for a period of time, including treading water, for 30 to 90 seconds.
- Swimming in a controlled direction in any manner for 10-50 metres
As a landmark initiative for our 125th Anniversary year, the RLSS has developed the Survival Swimming Guide – Survival Swimming in Every Commonwealth Nation as a resource for use in lifesaving organisations.
Drowning is one of the biggest preventable causes of death in the world today, responsible for the deaths of around 373,000 people worldwide. Every Commonwealth country and RLSS member branch will have its own pressing priorities for teaching survival swimming – whether it’s to ensure that adults and children can safely enjoy swimming and leisure activities near water, or to help families and communities in low and middle income countries reduce the terrible toll of drowning while working and travelling on water (more than 90% of deaths by drowning occur in LMICs).
Equally, different countries will have different and competing demands on their time and resources, so we are encouraging all our member branches to work with other countries and organisations to establish survival swimming programmes and build upon those projects already started.
The guidelines can be adapted to meet local requirements as long as the safety of participants and instructors is always maintained. The guide does not set a standard for survival swimming, but helps us all to work towards our goal: that one day, every person in the Commonwealth will have access to survival swimming.
Sounds ambitious? Maybe – but what better legacy for the Royal Life Saving Society and our 125th Anniversary!
Download the Guide here.