Free water safety skills for 6K kids following tragedy

instructor leading a swim safe session on a beach

A legacy fund in memory of a man who tragically drowned in 2015 has allowed almost 6,000 children to learn free water safety skills as part of the Swim Safe programme offered by The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Swim England.

Andrew McGeown, 32, drowned in 2015 after entering the water to save his dog while walking at Scarborough’s South Bay. 

Determined to turn its loss into something positive for the town, McGeown’s family set up the Andrew McGeown Legacy Fund, which has given the opportunity to 5,742 children to learn vital water safety skills as part of the Swim Safe programme. 

“Fundraising in my brother’s memory has given my family a positive focus after Andrew’s death,” says McGeown’s sister Donna Loveland who set up the fund. “The Swim Safe programme has been very successful. It’s a pleasure to be able to deliver such a valuable programme, and hopefully we will save many lives through the educational sessions. Andrew will always be remembered and loved thanks to the great legacy created with RNLI and Swim England and everyone who has supported us.”

Sam Johnson of the RNLI’s Water Safety team comments: “Last year, RNLI lifeguards and volunteer lifeboat crews were busy, aiding more than 50,000 people and saving 408 lives. By educating children about water safety from a young age, together we can help reduce the number of incidents around our coasts and at inland locations. 

“That’s why we are encouraging parents of children between the ages of seven and 14 to sign them up to the free Swim Safe sessions to help build their confidence in and around the water, while learning vital skills which could save their lives such as how to Float.

“This is a simple technique where you lean back like a starfish, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. It allows you to control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety and is proven to save lives.” 

Since 2013, the Swim Safe programme has delivered free lifesaving sessions to more than 148,000 children across the UK. The 45-minute sessions are run by local partners with trained instructors during the summer months at outdoor water locations including beaches and inland sites such as water sports centres.

The RNLI has recently delivered safety warnings in the UK for younger swimmers as the charity predicts up to 35 million* people are planning to visit the coast this summer in the UK and Ireland.

The RNLI’s key water safety advice for 7–14-year-olds is:

  • Stop and think – Always swim in a safe place.
  • Stay together – Always swim with an adult, younger children should always be within arms reach. 
  • Float – If you find yourself in trouble in the water, float on your back like a starfish.
  • Call 999 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard.

* Office for National Statistics: 2021 UK population aged 16-64: 41.2M

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