Belfast Telegraph

Swimming more important than algebra

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

With Declan Bogue

In warmer climes there is no panic from newspapers to chase reporters and photographers out the door at the first sight of sunshine in order to capture 'the story'.

You know the type of piece; pictures of young people lying on the beach when they could or should be revising for exams. A snap of someone on a pier with ankles dangling into the water, enjoying an ice cream. Everyone described as 'revellers'. Who cares?

But if there is one thing warm weather guarantees is more people on our beaches, by lakes and rivers. Swimming in open water is exhilarating, but how many of us have ever tried it? And that's where the danger comes in.

Perhaps this is down to the lack of importance that a skill such as swimming is afforded in the education system. Travel anywhere in the southern hemisphere and they will laugh at the very notion of someone from here swimming. Apparently, it's an island thing. We tend to get lumped in with the Japanese as people who are scared of the water.

A few years back a football manager took our team to the swimming pool in Enniskillen. It was clear to see that the ones who attended the town school could not swim, while those from the country had no problem. They had been brought to the pool on a weekly basis from eight years old and therefore had the opportunity to learn.

What is taught in an educational environment constantly amazes me. We give over months to the study of algebra and nothing to essential life skills. No wonder young people are bored and restless.

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