Panathlon swimming

Panathlon has strengthened its efforts to keep children with disabilities and special needs active and engaged through the pandemic by adding swimming to its Virtual Programme.

The new in-school swimming programme is available to schools with a pool of any size and replicates the kind of challenge activities we would normally deliver for SEND children at our external swimming galas (which saw over 5,000 participants per year prior to Covid-19).

The format encourages swimmers and non-swimmers to participate in individual challenges, raising their confidence in the water and offering a positive experience at an in-school gala.

Competing individually or part of a team, swimmers’ times are added across the activities to form an individual or team score, which allows each student to compete on behalf of their school.

Each participating school will be sent certificates and stickers to mark their achievements.

Schools can download the preview activity guides below, depending whether their school’s pool is 5m or 10m in length. The preview will contain all entry information.

All the activities were road-tested before Christmas by swim teachers and pupils at several schools, with their feedback included in the planning of the programme’s content.

Charlton Park Academy in Greenwich, south-east London, were one of the first schools to road-test the programme with 54 students involved from 11 classes.

Their relatively small pool (pictured as set up for the challenges) enables only four swimmers in the water at one time due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, but they adapted by splitting classes into teams of four and completing the 5m and 10m challenges.

“It has been great fun and the students have really enjoyed it across the sessions,” said Charlton Park teacher Lisa Innet. “Thank you so much for a chance to do swimming in a ‘fun but structured’ way.”

Panathlon’s Chief Operating Officer, Tony Waymouth, said: “Working closely with swimming teachers has shown us that there remains a strong demand to continue running swimming activity throughout the Covid-19 restrictions.

“Throughout the testing of this programme, we focused on making best use of the space available so we are able to engage students in even the smallest pools.

“Thanks to the feedback and support we think we have a fun opportunity for children to develop skills and confidence and enjoy the water, even as this period of uncertainty over the virus continues.”

Strathmore Special School in Richmond, London, was one of the schools who tested the virtual swimming activities.

PE Lead Louise Ross said: “Our swimming teacher loves the activities and we’re going to buy some more equipment so we can access them properly. This means we continue to develop swimming in school. Thank you, it is a great initiative.”

Verity Clarke from Redway School in Milton Keynes, Bucks, added: “We have been partially open this term so far and I have several classes that these activities would be brilliant for. Our classes are five to eight children in size, so a class could be one team or a bigger class could be split into two teams. We look forward to starting it in the spring term.”

Lorna Crust, Youth Sport Trust Inclusion Lead and teacher at Marjorie McClure Specialist School in Chislehurst, South-East London, added: “These activities look great and we will definitely run the events in our 5m hydro pool after half term when children start coming back. This looks like a lot of fun and will engage the pupils.”

Download previews to our virtual swimming programme below

Panathlon would like to thank Pentland Brands, funders of our swimming activity, for their support with the launch of this programme and their continued desire to help us give children swimming opportunities and develop skills through the pandemic.