To mark the end of a lifesaving summer, the Black Owned Swim School (B.O.S.S) has held two events to give young people the opportunity to enjoy water safely by having their first dip in open water.

The events were held at lakes in Tamworth, Staffordshire, and Stoke Newington, London and the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) was proud to help support by offering open water coaching and safety tips ahead of the swims.

National charity RLSS UK aims to reach as many people as possible to allow everyone the opportunity to enjoy water safely, no matter their background. The charity has partnered with charitable organisation B.O.S.S which aims to work to prevent drowning in the most vulnerable, at risk communities in aquatics.

During the summer months, young people from Birmingham and London were able to head to their local pools to take part in swimming and lifesaving sessions to give them the skills needed to enjoy water safely thanks to B.O.S.S and RLSS UK.

b.o.s.s lifesaving summer with rlss uk in london

Annalize Butler is the owner and founder of B.O.S.S and has been teaching swimming for 15 years, and was the driving force behind the lifesaving summer events.

Annalize said: “I work in an environment where I might be the only black person on the poolside within the whole city. Sources show that in England only 2% of regular swimmers are from the black community.

“By working with organisations such as RLSS UK, we can actively change the way people think about swimming. B.O.S.S is about reconnecting people with the water in an effortless and exciting way, bringing new opportunities to engage an underrepresented audience and level up in the aquatics industry.

“It is scary how many people are affected by drowning in the black community, and it is my mission to make my community water safe.”

The lifesaving summer events have been a great success, involving many young people and equipping them with skills and knowledge around the water.

b.o.s.s lifesaving summer with rlss uk swimming

Lee Heard, Charity Director at RLSS UK, said: “Providing young people with the opportunity to get into a swimming pool and not only to learn to swim but to learn vital lifesaving skills is something that should be available to all children.

“We work with organisations such as B.O.S.S to reach and build communities from under-represented groups with limited access and opportunities in swimming. Events like lifesaving summer are a fantastic way to get young people involved with swimming and lifesaving and change attitudes to water to ensure they can safely enjoy a lifetime of fun in the water.

“The long-term goal is to light the pathway for young people to represent their communities through the aquatics workforce. We want more young people from ethnically diverse communities taking up the personal opportunity to lifeguard our water, creating spaces where our diverse communities feel they can be safe and welcomed.”

lifesaving session with RLSS UK and B.O.S.S

The lifesaving summer sessions were delivered by experts in water safety and targeted those aged 10 and over and their families to educate them on how to stay safe in the water and in turn reduce the number of drownings that are usually seen during the summer months.

The sessions were also delivered in tribute to 15-year-old Thandolwethu Ndlovu, who drowned in Derbyshire in 2021.

The first event was held at West Reservoir in Stoke Newington, London on 1 September and targeted local residents as well as young teenagers who are unlikely to have access to swimming lessons in their local leisure centres, and their parents.

Many of the swimmers had taken part in the sessions during the summer and during the event at West Reservoir, they were able to take on a 50m challenge and put the skills they had learnt over the summer to the test. They were also able to try their hand at kayaking.

B.O.S.S. lifesaving summer session kayaking

The second event was held in Tamworth, Staffordshire on 3 September at Cliff Lakes Aquapark which has a number of outdoor swimming lanes, open water swimming opportunities, as well as the aqua park. The event saw a number of young people in attendance and they were able to make exclusive use of the 50m lanes for their open water swimming challenge.

B.O.S.S has been working with the young Birmingham swimmers throughout the summer, teaching them to swim as well as teaching them vital lifesaving skills and the event was a perfect opportunity for them to put their new skills to the test.

All attendees were able to learn more about water safety from an RLSS UK qualified trainer, to ensure they had the right knowledge before getting in the water. Whilst the children were in the water, parents and supervisors were able to proudly watch whilst also learning about lifesaving themselves.

Both events were enjoyed by all involved with young children, teenagers and adults taking part who now have the skills and knowledge to stay safe in, on and around water.