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Olympic swimmer backs water safety campaign in schools

Aimee Willmott, Tees Active’s Learn To Swim Ambassador and Olympic swimmer backs Tees Active’s water safety campaign in primary schools across Stockton-on-Tees to highlight the danger of drowning in open water.

Tees Active Learn to Swim Ambassador Aimee Willmott.

Middlesbrough born Aimee Willmott is supporting Tees Active’s ‘Water Safety Super Heroes’ initiative, which coincides with national Drowning Prevention Week which runs 17th – 24th June.

The campaign features a downloadable, fun and engaging ‘Super Hero’ resource pack that teachers in any school can use to educate children about water safety with almost 20 local schools signed up to.

In addition, throughout Drowning Prevention Week the Tees Active aquatics team visited a number of schools in the Stockton-on-Tees Borough to present and deliver a fun and engaging lesson which included a range of group activities. This allowed children to understand the dangers of open water and to help equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to act if they find themselves, or someone they know, in difficulty in water.

Aimee, a gold medallist in the 2018 Commonwealth Games 400 metres individual medley, also represented Great Britain at the Olympics, World Championships, and European Championships.

Aimee is throwing her weight behind the campaign, which follows a number of drowning tragedies in which young people have lost their lives in the North-East in recent years. Earlier this month, 16-year-old Freya Carley, from Easington, North Yorkshire, drowned in the sea at Saltburn.

Aimee said: “Swimming has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I know the joy and health benefits that being in the water can bring.”

“However, I’m also acutely aware of the dangers of swimming unsupervised in open water, such as rivers, lakes, ponds, and the sea, so I applaud Tees Active for taking this creative and proactive approach aimed at saving lives.”

More than 400 people per year drown in the UK, with 47 per cent of accidental drownings occurring between May and August, and 59 per cent at inland water sites.

As well as the River Tees winding its way through the borough, Stockton-on-Tees also has more than 30 publicly accessible lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, and large water-filled ditches. And the core message behind the campaign is that the safest way to swim is in a pool manned by trained lifeguards.

Tees Active Managing Director, Leon Jones, said: “Tees Active is all about improving people’s lives, and educating people to make healthier decisions, as well as providing them with fun, safe places where they can be active in their leisure time.

“Having a local legend like Aimee supporting the campaign is fantastic and, if we can prevent just one incident from happening through education, then it has been well worthwhile.”

Councillor Steve Nelson, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Leisure and Culture, added: “During the warmer months it can be tempting to go swimming in open water, but it has many hidden dangers and can be incredibly unsafe to be around so we are very pleased to join Aimee in supporting Tees Active’s campaign.

“We’re lucky to have a number of safe and accessible pools across the Borough, where people can swim at their leisure while being supervised by trained professionals.”

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