Open Water Swimming

Having completed a 4km open water swim in Greece in August 2014 with my friend Dimitris and his son

Swimming still seems to be as popular as it ever was, no matter what fashions or trends come and go, swimming always remains either the number 1 or 2 leisure activity in the UK. So why is this?

Health Benefits

One reason is probably obvious and that’s water safety – many parents will insist that their child learns to swim to be safe in and around water. Sadly, drownings is still the 3rd largest cause of accidental death in the UK for under 15-year old’s. Arguably, water safety is the most important motivation for learning to swim.

Then of course there’s all the health benefits, as regular swimming will help to maintain and improve:

  • the cardio vascular system,
  • lung capacity and function,
  • joint mobility,
  • muscles and their function,
  • stamina and it may also help to control body weight.

Regular swimming also helps to reduce stress and is very effective in lowering blood pressure.

Non-Impact Injury Free Sport

Compared to other sports, swimming is relatively injury free as the water supports and protects the body, so this is particularly beneficial for anyone with joint injuries, arthritis, knee problems (but breaststroke should be avoided), back problems and other injuries.  People with disabilities receive enormous benefit from learning to swim, enabling them to train and improve their cardio vascular fitness, strength and mobility – something which they would be otherwise be unable or restricted to do on land.

Everyone, male or female, young or old, fit or unfit, people with disabilities or recovering from injuries, benefits from swimming. But learning to swim is not easy, it takes determination and self- discipline to persevere, but with that perseverance comes an enormous sense of achievement and satisfaction. As a Swimming Teacher, there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing a child smile when they achieve their 5 metres Front Crawl certificate. And as a Coach, it is very rewarding to see your swimmer show you the gold medal they won at their last meet.

Adults & children having fun at the beach, St Lucia, West Indies 2016

Adults & children having fun at the beach, St Lucia, West Indies 2016


Swimming reaches out across boundaries, people of all cultures, religions and ethnicity love swimming. Children and adults love being in water, whether it be in the pool or in the Mediterranean Sea! Some people swim for water safety, some swim for fun, some purely to keep fit and healthy, some go on to compete at the highest level. Some like the social aspect, for example this could be Adult Group lessons or a Parent & Baby swimming lesson at the local leisure centre or swim school. Many parents are not swimmers themselves but they love the social aspect of mixing with other parents, as well as introducing their baby to water, for water safety and health reasons.

Sailing in Paraty, Brazil 2015

Sailing in Paraty, Brazil 2015

Being able to swim also opens a whole world of other aquatic activities such as scuba-diving, sailing (as seen above) water-skiing, windsurfing, water polo, synchronised swimming, diving and even fishing or simply going to the beach and having fun!!

Open Water Swimming

Open water swimming has also steadily grown more popular over recent years and I completed my first ever open water distance swim when I was holiday in Greece in 2014. I was going for my usual daily leisurely swim parallel to the beach one day when I “bumped” into Dimitris, who persuaded me to join him in a 4km open water swim. We swam 2km to an island (top picture) and then back another 2km and though I’ve been swimming for many years since very young and swam many times in the sea, I’d never done a swim away from the shore and back over this sort of distance, indeed most of my swimming focused on 50 metre & 100 metre freestyle sprints in a pool!!!! The feeling of achievement after completing this swim was immense. I shall never forget looking down below the beautiful crystal clear Mediterranean Sea, as I swam that day, as well as the friendship that was formed between Dimitris and myself that day, all thanks to swimming.

David Perry, STA Level 4 National Swimming Tutor

David Perry, STA Level 4 National Swimming Tutor

I recently had the pleasure of visiting St Lucia with the aim of developing swimming on the island, working in partnership with the Saint Lucia Amateur Swimming Association (SLASA).

As a Saint Lucian national, I have a lot of family in St Lucia and I visit this beautiful little island every year, primarily to spend time with my family.

Swimming not part of national curriculum

Over the years, however, it has become increasingly apparent that there is a growing need for much greater swimming provision on the island, particularly as there has been a high number of drownings in recent years – it is estimated that around 90% of the St Lucian population cannot swim at all, which I am sure you will agree is rather shocking. In addition, swimming is not yet on the national curriculum and there is only 1 fit for purpose pool on the island. There is also a drastic shortage of qualified swimming teachers to deliver a sound learn to swim programme on the island and St Lucia has the highest rate of diabetes per capita in the world.

Swimming Development in St Lucia

(Meeting with the Saint Lucian Minister of Youth Sport and being presented with the Saint Lucian Olympic Team shirt)

In the past I have tried to assist by delivering some discounted summer holiday training courses, to help provide a greater number of swimming teachers. But something much more long-term and complex is required. Hence the reason why I met with the Saint Lucia Amateur Swimming Association (SLASA) to help redress the situation. Following a successful meeting with SLASA, during which we put together a swimming development proposal, I then had the honour of presenting our joint proposal to the Ministry of Youth Sports, where I met with the Minister, Dr Anthony George, and his department.

Our proposal was received very warmly indeed by the Ministry and it all now comes down to some much-needed funding from the Saint Lucian government, which I am hopeful of. The STA have also kindly reduced their fees to assist in the cause and I am offering the first few courses at cost only.

SLASA and Saint Lucian Government Partnership

It is hoped that by working in partnership with SLASA and the Saint Lucian government to providing:

  • subsidised annual training courses
  • discounted swimming lessons for the community

this will give the island the teachers it needs to deliver a comprehensive and affordable learn to swim programme, as well as provide career opportunities for members of the community and importantly reduce the number of drownings and better the health of the nation.

Dave Perry

Director, Aquatic Training Courses