Calls to recruit more swimming coaches amid national shortage

Leisure centre bosses say it's 'crucial' to train more coaches so children can learn to be safe in the water.

A national recruitment drive for more swimming instructor is under way in a bid to teach 100,000 more children how to swim by 2025.

Lessons are currently provided to more than 100,000 young people across the country but at least 10% more teachers are required to meet demand.

Leisure centres say the role is “crucial” in ensuring children learn how to be safe in the water.

But over the last few years, some pools have had to cut the number of weekly lessons on offer because of the struggle to hire new instructors.

Edinburgh Leisure sports development manager Karen Pearson McGrath said: “It’s a challenge we’ve been facing for quite a long time.

“We’re really struggling to keep up with demand to take part in swimming lessons. Unfortunately we’ve not got enough coaches to make that happen.

“We’ve got the demand and we’ve got the pool space available; we just need the coaches.”

She added: “We all know the lifelong benefits swimming brings to children – social skills, health. Swimming is also a life skill.

“We need children to be confident and safe in the water. At the end of the day it’s saving lives and should they find themselves in a situation in the water, it could help save themselves or somebody else.”

There is a nationwide shortage of swimming teachers

The Learn to Swim National Framework – a partnership between Scottish Swimming and Scottish Water which is delivered by 38 aquatic providers across Scotland in more than 160 pools – is shining a light on the inspiring teachers involved in teaching the next generation of youngsters to swim.

There are over 76,000 children across the country currently taking part in weekly Learn to Swim lessons.

In 2022-23, over 740 candidates took part in 72 swim teacher training courses across Scotland and now the organisers are urging those looking to learn a new skill and become a swim teacher to attend courses in their local area.

Jane Peebles Edinburgh Leisure chief executive Jane Peebles said energy costs have increased by £2.75m compared with pre-Covid levels.

She said: “We do what we can, such as our carbon reduction plan. But in terms of heating and cooling our venues, it does come at a price. The public are also suffering from high inflation for their energy bills.

“The last thing anybody wants is venue closures. I am very open with customers and employees and share the financial challenges Edinburgh Leisure are facing.

“I feel so passionate that public leisure facilities are the lifeblood of a healthy nation.

“There’s so much data out there on the positive impact physical activity has on mental and social wellbeing. It would be criminal to reduce public leisure services across the country.

“We can’t meet demand for a lot of health programmes and we very much want to do more.”

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