The swimming training is not good enough. Only 41 percent of fifth-graders can swim 200 meters. It is extra worrying that the development is going in the wrong direction. In 2013, this proportion was 53 per cent. Pupils with an immigrant background are less likely to swim and more dependent on receiving such instruction at school or by attending swimming courses.
These are the bare facts, as they can be read from a report from the Norwegian Swimming Association and the Rescue Society. At the same time, the researcher Dagmar Dahl comes with a clear message that Norwegian school students should learn to handle cold water. The criteria for swimming lessons were changed in 2020, but the curriculum does not say anything about practicing in cold water. 99 percent of drowning accidents occur outdoors, and most when it is cold in the water.
If the water is colder than 15 degrees, the body quickly gets a cold shock.
98 per cent of the country’s schools had swimming lessons in 2021. The report states that 86 per cent of teachers believe that more hours should be set aside for swimming lessons. 43 percent of students think the same. 71 percent state that they have a swimming pool nearby. This proportion has increased over the last 20 years, but not in Oslo. There, the development has gone in the opposite direction.
It is the schools, and thus the municipalities, that are responsible for ensuring that the pupils receive good swimming instruction. It requires a swimming pool and that schools prioritize such teaching. Here, local politicians must know their visiting hours. At the same time, it is gratifying to register that most parents show up. Two thirds of the children learn to swim privately and then mainly with the help of their parents. However, not all parents are able to teach their children to swim. Therefore, schools have a special responsibility.
But then we have the warning index finger from Dagmar Dahl, who is an associate professor at Nord University. We must learn to swim in cold water. Heated pool becomes a fake pillow. “Once you have learned to cope with cold water in safe conditions, you have knowledge in your body and brain that allows you to stay calm and make sensible decisions,” Dahl recently told NRK.
If the water is colder than 15 degrees, the body quickly gets a cold shock. Then we lose control of our breath, and it’s easy to panic. Therefore, training in billowing cold water outdoors should be included as part of swimming lessons. And it should be practiced with clothes on. The Labor / Social Democrats government promises to strengthen the requirement for the quality and scope of swimming lessons in schools. This is a promise that commits. Swimming lessons in cold water should be part of such a strengthening. We need a more realistic swimming training that is adapted to Norwegian beaches. It will be a good contribution to preventing drowning accidents.
Keep yourself updated. Receive a daily newsletter from Dagsavisen