With an aim to reduce drownings and provide all communities with water safety education, the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) and the Black Owned Swim School (B.O.S.S) have today, Wednesday 7 December, announced a strategic partnership.

Statistics show that only 51% of black children in the UK can swim, compared to 73% for white British children*, this is something that the partnership aims to change.

The partnership will see the two charities work together to help underrepresented communities access swimming lessons, water safety education and opportunities in the aquatics and leisure industry.

RLSS UK’s strategic framework includes ‘Building our Communities’ and the charity wants to reach as many people as possible to allow everyone the opportunity to enjoy water safely, no matter their background. 

Annalize Butler is the owner and founder of B.O.S.S and has been teaching swimming for 15 years, featuring in BBC documentaries about her work. On behalf of B.O.S.S, Annalize has worked with RLSS UK throughout 2022, attending Westminster and speaking with MPs to support Drowning Prevention Week.

She says the biggest challenge she faces is securing enough pool space and time to deliver her swimming and water safety lessons to those who need it most.

“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 two per cent of regular swimmers are from the black community.

“My work and mission is to secure pool time to create safe and inclusive spaces for those from hard to reach backgrounds – black and ethnic minority communities are proportionately more likely to drown and there are a host of other barriers they face which I aim to break down,” she added.

During this summer, families, households, and individuals between the age of 5 to 70 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 with B.O.S.S. To mark the end of the lifesaving summer, the swim school held two events to give families between the age of 5 to 70 the chance to experience swimming in open water for the first time. RLSS UK was proud to help support by offering open water coaching and safety tips ahead of their 50m open water swim challenge.

Annalize said: “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 and this partnership with RLSS UK can help achieve that.”

RLSS UK Charity Director, Lee Heard said: “We are delighted to partner with the Black Owned Swim School to help reach more communities with vital water safety messages. Sharing knowledge, resources, and insight, together, we can help to ensure that everyone, no matter their background, has the right skills and knowledge to keep themselves and others safe.

“This is a practical, hands-on relationship and by working with B.O.S.S we can provide more young people with the opportunity to get into a swimming pool and not only to learn to swim but to learn vital lifesaving skills, something that should be available to all children. The long-term goal is to light the pathway for young people to represent their communities through the aquatic 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 have a safe and welcoming space.

“We are looking forward to working with Annalize and B.O.S.S next year and have some exciting plans."

*Source: Swimming data based on being able to swim 25m from Sports England Active Lives Survey 20/21.