Wirral children taught RNLI ‘float to live’ skills ahead of summer holidays

Hundreds of Wirral children have learned vital water safety skills ahead of the school summer holidays as Hoylake RNLI partnered once again with the Helen Diamond Swimming School to mark Drowning Prevention Week 2023.

RNLI water safety volunteers spoke to young swimmers at 39 sessions throughout Drowning Prevention Week (17–24 June) as part of their regular swimming lessons.

The special sessions saw students swimming in pyjamas to prepare them for the sensation of falling unexpectedly into water and included dedicated time to practising the lifesaving ‘float to live’ technique, as well as how to call for help.

Parents and guardians on the poolside also learned important ways to keep their families safe by the coast this summer, such as visiting lifeguarded beaches and understanding the effects of cold water shock. The sessions reached over 1,000 people at Calday Grange Swimming Pool and Birkenhead High School Academy.

The RNLI’s mascot Stormy Stan was on duty to cheer on the young swimmers and to promote the charity’s lifesaving messages. Through generous donations, Hoylake RNLI volunteers were also able to raise £237.60 to help its crews save lives at sea.

Helen Diamond said, “Thank you to the team at Hoylake RNLI for an amazing week supporting our swim school in raising awareness around water safety ahead of the summer.

“We know all too well the dangers. It’s so important to understand why we learn to swim, how to be safe, and to show adults that sitting on a poolside for years watching swimming lessons can also literally help save a life. I always compare it to learning to read and write, it’s a skill we all need.”

Helen added, “Each year during Drowning Prevention Week, we aim to raise awareness and do so to an ever-increasing audience. Having the support of Stormy Stan this year was a huge hit with not only the children but also our staff.

“Our team of over 50 staff really enjoy seeing their students put into practice the skills they’re taught every week with the added challenge of swimming in their clothes. Even having little beginners in clothes is fabulous. I’ve been teaching swimming for nearly 30 years and feel so passionate about swimming and water safety.”

Dave Bates, Hoylake RNLI Water Safety Adviser, said, “I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to speak to swimmers and parents again this year. Hopefully the skills and messages they’ve learned will never be needed, but if the worst should happen then these children and their parents know what to do – not only if they find themselves out of their depth or entering cold water unexpectedly, but also how to pass the message on if they see others in difficulty too. Float!”

Dave added, “Living on a coastal peninsula, and with so many people being drawn to the water over the summer, these lessons are essential. These children are already learning to swim, but now they know what to do in an emergency.”

The RNLI and Helen Diamond Swimming School ‘float to live’ sessions are planned to return in the summer of 2024 at swimming pools across Wirral.

Image: Helen Diamond Swimming School

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