Water safety concerns for children have prompted Andover Leisure Centre to add a new advanced lifesaving level to its swim school.
The new Kayaking Rookie Rescue lifesaving course is aimed at helping children – and adults – to not only stay safe when they’re swimming but to cope with dangers when they are out on boats and kayaks too.
The need for the course was revealed when Valley Leisure staff went to local schools to talk about swimming safety and they discovered many more children than thought are messing about on the open water without extra safety skills.
“When we went into local schools to talk about the RLSS safe swim programme we were surprised at how many children are now boating, kayaking and canoeing too. It made us realise there was a new need and if we introduced a new course, we could help them be better equipped for the activities they were doing,” said Tammy Dewhurst, assistant manager of sport at Andover Leisure Centre.
She added: “The new course will not only make it safer for the children themselves to be on kayaks, it will give them the skills to help other people too, if something goes wrong.”
The 20-week course will also provide a new level for children who have graduated all of the swim schools’ current levels. The first 10 weeks will be all about gaining a paddling qualification and the second 10 weeks concentrates on specialist lifesaving skills.
“We currently have 1,400 children going through our swim school but some of our strongest swimmers can be as young as seven or eight and have passed every swim level we have,” said Tammy.
“It will be great to give them something new as a challenge and keep them practicing – week in, week out – what they have learned before,” Tammy added.
The kayaking course is taught in the swimming pool at the leisure centre but people will be able to try out their skills on the open water at Charlton Lakeside from Easter when it reopens after the winter.
For more information contact Tammy Dewhurst on 01264 347121. The first course starts this Saturday, 6 February.