Children have been waiting for years for swimming lessons

Lubeck.Parents who wanted to enroll their children in swimming lessons in Lübeck did not believe this: they were told that the waiting time should be four years – half an eternity for a child who wished to be able to swim as fast as possible in the land between the seas. “The four-year waiting period is the exception, but it does happen,” says Thies Wolfhagen of the German Life Saving Society (DLRG) in Schleswig-Holstein. “Unfortunately, waiting times of two to three years for a junior swimming course are currently the order of the day, depending on the region and opportunities there.”

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At the DLRG in Lubeck, a waiting period of three years

At the local DLRG group in Lubeck, the waiting time for the “seahorse” course, which is all about getting used to the water, is currently about three years, says local group vice president Stefan Roescher. An important point is the times and places to swim, about which one is in discussion with the city. “We can offer more courses from the DLRG side, but we don’t get more swimming time.” If the indoor pool on the Ziegelstraße is closed for a year for renovation, as was announced, the situation will only get worse.

Nationwide 30,000 children are on the waiting list

For Steffen Weber, president of the Schleswig-Holstein Swimming Association (SHSV), four years is one of the longest waiting times he’s ever heard of. “Obviously we have a traffic jam. Due to the Corona pandemic, swimming courses cannot be offered to children for a year and a half. This means: 30,000 children were left without care.” Now they are joined by younger children who also want to learn to swim. “We can’t get this fundamental problem away, we have to deal with it,” Webber says.

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Local capabilities are crucial

Even before Corona, waiting times were from one and a half to two years, says DLRG spokesperson, Wolfhagen, “depending on the local structure and the capabilities there.” Because courses have been canceled in the pandemic, waiting times have increased nationwide, but not uniformly. Weber says individual local possibilities, such as available swimming pools and train schedules, played a crucial role.

Minister Sutterlin Walk: Every child should learn to swim

The state government has been aware of the problem for a long time. The Corona pandemic has stolen nearly two years from us. Many children now finally want to learn to swim and are waiting with their parents for a place on the swimming course because the traffic jam has to be cleared first,” says Sabine Sutterlin-Wack (CDU), the Home Secretary in charge of sports. Fortunately, there are many professional swimming instructors who continue to Provide additional hours.

The state subsidizes the lessons with more than 600,000 euros

“I can only appeal to all children and parents to keep trying. Every child in our country between seas and many lakes must learn to swim,” says the minister. The state government had previously paid 330,000 euros in funding to make additional swimming courses available, and now another 300,000 euros will be added. Both SHSV and DLRG have done a great job so far dealing with Corona’s traffic congestion.

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SHSV President: Courses are also on weekends and during holidays

It is now important to offer swimming courses on weekends and during summer vacation, including financial incentives for volunteer swimming coaches, emphasizes SHSV President Stephen Weber. The Swimming Association provided funds to the clubs through state funding to support swimming training on weekends and during holidays. Together with DLRG, schools, ASB and many more clubs training, a lot has already been achieved, says Steffen Weber. With outdoor pools now open for the summer, you have a great opportunity to catch up. This gives us hope that we will be able to solve the traffic congestion within two to four years. Of course it is bad luck for those who are currently waiting for a place.”

Kids start with “seahorse” courses

According to SHSV, non-swimmer kids with bronze medals need about one hour of swimming lessons per week for about a year. But there are also built-in courses where you can get the “seahorse” badge for basic skills faster. Queues are organized by pools, local clubs and DLRG local groups. Weber’s advice to parents: “Ask as many providers as you can and also increase your search a bit.” It is definitely worth asking the local DLRG structure and trying to find the current places, says DLRG spokesperson Wolfhagen.

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