Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson has called on the government to tackle the concerning numbers of children who are unable to swim, following the publication of a report by the Amateur Swimming Association.
The largest ever investigation into school swimming found that over half (51%) of children aged seven to 11 years cannot swim 25 metres unaided. This equates to over 1.1million children in England unable to be safe in and around water.
Bill Esterson said the figures were very worrying.
Bill said: "It's vital that every child learns to swim at primary school. Not only is it an important lifesaving skill – it’s the foundation for participation in a wide range of sports.
"Improving opportunities for young to swim must be a core part of the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy.”
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has found that drowning is amongst the leading causes of accidental death of children and young people in England. Experts are worried these numbers could increase in future if this worryingly situation is not rectified.
Bill has supported an Early Day Motion in Parliament that reiterated the expectation that all children should be able to swim at least 25 metres unaided by the time they leave primary school.
David Sparkes, Chief Executive of the ASA said: "Swimming is one of the easiest, safest forms of exercise for children of all abilities, and school swimming is the single most effective way of teaching children how to be safe in and around water. Yet swimming is one of the few areas of a child’s statutory education that is all too often left unmeasured, unchecked or, for 1.1m children, unfulfilled.
"We are delighted that Bill Esterson has shown his support for our campaign to ensure every child has the opportunity to learn this life saving skill."
Bill said young people in Sefton Central benefited from having excellent swimming facilities like Maghull's Meadows Leisure Centre and Formby Pool.
Bill said: "I have seen local schools using some of the excellent facilities we have here in Sefton, like the Meadows swimming pool in Maghull, and it is clear to me how important school swimming is.
"I would encourage parents to make sure their children learn to swim. Four-hundred people drown each year in accidents so learning to swim is a lifesaver. But swimming is also tremendous fun and like other physical activity is very good for you.
"For children swimming and other school sport can really help improve health and it can help with concentration, behaviour and in building confidence. Children who take part in physical activity also do better in their school work and I am thrilled to be able to support what the ASA are doing to increase the number of children who can swim.
"And for those children who are really good at swimming, there is always the prospect of winning an Olympic medal like Liverpool's Steve Parry did in 2004 in Athens. Steve learned after his parents had to fish him out of a river when he fell in. He turned out to be an exceptional swimmer. But rather than taking a risk that you can rescue a child who falls into the river or canal it must make sense to teach all children to swim. That's why I support this cause."