Primary school children across the county have been able to enjoy swimming lessons through a scheme to help youngsters tackle the water.

The Missed Opportunity Swimming Programme, which has been funded by LEAP, run and delivered through the Bucks School Swimming Partnership (BSSP) and Neil Bailey Swimming, saw 80 pupils from five schools attend hour-long daily lessons for the week at the High March School in Beaconsfield between July 12 and July 16. 

This will be followed by a further three-week programme during the school holidays at Cedar Park School in High Wycombe, where parents can sign up their child free of charge for one of the week-long intensive lessons with a capacity of 288 children taking part.

Bucks Free Press: High March School in Beaconsfield (Pictured in September 2016)High March School in Beaconsfield (Pictured in September 2016)

Mandy Carey, who is the Bucks School Swimming Adviser for the BSSP [Bucks School Swimming Partnership] said: “We know that millions of children have missed out on their school swimming programmes over the last two years and with limited pool space, there is potential that many more may continue to miss out on these vital opportunities.

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“With 14 people dying from water-related incidents over the last few days [across the country] we need to make children safe and teach them what they need to do if they are in cold water, deep water etc, so it is important to offer these opportunities.

“Long term, we are looking at millions of children who if we don’t run the top up programs such as these, they will be leaving their primary school in Buckinghamshire unable to swim and keep themselves safe around water, and this is the last thing we want following the tragedies that we have suffered, such as with Kyrece [Francis].”

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The week was a resounding success, as, during the five days, the children were taught key water safety skills, how to swim and the water safety code.  

Bucks Free Press: Children have been able to swim in Beaconsfield (Pixabay/stock photo)Children have been able to swim in Beaconsfield (Pixabay/stock photo)

It is now hoped that due to the children’s progression, along with how much they enjoyed the experience, parents will encourage the youngsters to continue swimming throughout the summer months.

Priority is being given to pupils who are the least active, on free school meals, those with additional needs and any in those categories who are non-swimmers or are unable to swim 15 metres unaided.

Julie-Ann Swaysland, who is the headteacher at Ivingswood Academy said: “It has been brilliant.

“It has given the children an opportunity that they wouldn’t have had.

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“We have got lots of non-swimmers that don’t swim outside of school and the progress they have made is wonderful to see.

“The children have been diving off the platform boards, swimming a whole length which they weren’t doing on Tuesday [their first day].

“Swimming is a life skill and just from the four days that they have had, they have got that water confidence which they didn’t have before.”

Some of the students from Ivingswood said: “This week of swimming has been amazing. 

"I haven’t swum for two years but it feels like it was last week. 

"It helped me so much and encouraged me to get better at swimming.

Another added: "Before I went swimming at High March School I felt nervous because I thought the water might be deep and I wouldn’t be able to stand up and I would drown. 

"I didn’t need to worry as the instructors have helped me to swim on my back using a float. 

"I have learnt to use my arms and legs to move through the water."

Bucks Free Press: Kyrece Francis died in 2014 as a result of drowning Kyrece Francis died in 2014 as a result of drowning

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Mandy added: “These programmes give parents and children the knowledge that these opportunities are there and that a swimming school operates here if their child wants to continue swimming in the future.

Bucks Free Press: Jordan Veira passed away this year from drowning Jordan Veira passed away this year from drowning

“We’re not looking to turn every child into Adam Peaty, but, we are looking to enable children how to swim, keep themselves safe and enjoy all the aquatic opportunities available to them now and in the future. 

"That’s why I think something like this is so important for the children."

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