THOUSANDS of young swimmers in the Borders are to get a lesson covering self-rescue and life-saving skills in the largest coordinated water safety lesson ever seen in Scotland.

Lessons under the National Learn to Swim Framework, which involve approximately 3000 children locally through Live Borders, are being specially adapted to include key water safety guidance as part of the Royal Life Saving Society UK’s Drowning Prevention Week which runs from June 14-24.

The campaign aims to reduce the number of drownings in the UK by showing people how to be safe and have fun near water.

Drowning Prevention Week is a campaign created by the RLSS that aims to reduce the number of drowning and non-fatal drowning incidences that occur in the UK every year, by showing people how to be safe and have fun near water.

Scottish Swimming and Scottish Water – who are partners in Learn to Swim - have joined with the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), Leisure Trusts and Aquatic providers to deliver these exclusive lessons just before the summer holidays.

Up to 75,000 children on the Learn to Swim Framework up and down the country will be getting into the pool to learn the Water Safety Code: Stop and Think, Stay Together, Float, Call 999 or 112.

They will also learn the importance of floating if they ever fall in cold water and the meanings of different flags if they are at the beach.

Lesson plans, games and tutorial videos have been created and sent to the 37 Leisure Trusts and aquatic providers who deliver the Learn to Swim classes in Scotland, to ensure the lessons are delivered in a fun, engaging and educational way.

The latest figures from the National Water Safety Forum show that, in 2018, a total of 263 people lost their lives to unintentional drowning in the UK, of which 46 were in Scotland.

Sharon MacDonald, Director of Development at Scottish Swimming, the national governing body for swimming and aquatics in Scotland, said: “Swimming is an essential life skill which helps children to be safer in and around water.

“Ahead of the summer holidays we want children to have fun and enjoy swimming but to also have the knowledge on how to look after themselves and others.

“It has been great to work with Scottish Water, RLSS and RNLI to make this water safety lesson happen and I especially thank our partner Leisure Trusts and Aquatic Providers who are committed to delivering these key water safety skills to children from pre-school upwards at the start of summer.”

Every child will also be given a water safety leaflet provided by the RNLI to support the lesson and give children the knowledge and advice to continue enjoying a range of water environments safely.

Brian Lironi, Director of Corporate Affairs for Scottish Water, said: “The Water Safety lessons are a fabulous addition to the Learn to Swim programme.

“We are delighted so many children across Scotland are already able to enjoy the benefits of swimming – and so these new lessons will give them additional skills should they ever find themselves in danger.

“Water can often look harmless but there are many hidden dangers, so we are totally focused on doing what we can to make sure that parents and children stay safe around rivers, reservoirs and lochs this summer.”

Amanda Blacklock, Aquatics Officer at Live Borders, said: “We’re proud to be getting involved in this fantastic initiative.

“It’s great that, as we teach the sport, we’re also covering the valuable skills that will make sure Borders children know how to stay safe in and around the water.”

Robert Gofton, CEO of RLSS UK, commented: “We’re delighted to be working with Scottish Swimming, Scottish Water and RNLI this year for Drowning Prevention Week and are confident that this partnership will help people learn the skills they need to stay safe and enjoy the water.

“We urge as many people as possible to take advantage of the activities being run and learn what could be potentially lifesaving skills.”