That makes the latest findings of Swim England – the governing body for the sport – especially disturbing.
It should be a matter of national concern that 96 per cent of children are failing to achieve basic competencies that could save their lives, such as treading water, or being able to swim for 100 metres.
This worrying, and potentially dangerous, state of affairs underlines the crisis around learning to swim that this newspaper has highlighted in recent weeks.Large parts of Yorkshire are becoming swimming pool deserts, leaving ever more people unable to access facilities.
Lack of central funding and cuts to council budgets are leaving millions of children around the country without the means to learn to swim, and that will have serious consequences for their safety and long-term health.
Swim England is urging parents to boost their children’s skills in the water, but this is simply not possible for countless families if they do not have access to a public pool and cannot afford membership of private leisure centres.
Learning to swim cannot simply be allowed to become the preserve of the affluent. There is a need for affordable public pools, and their widespread closures must be rolled back.
Action is needed, and needed quickly, by both the Government and local authorities if we are to address this growing crisis.
For the sake of children’s health and lives, a new deal must be forged for swimming.