Island Kids Make a Splash on the Mainland

14 June 2019
Tiree Kids join Learn to Swim

Tiree Kids join Learn to Swim

“Trips to the mainland are a big highlight in our school calendar and we always try to fit in a visit to a pool for swimming and water confidence lessons. Living on an island, swimming becomes an even more important skill to have. ”

Ruth Budge
Teacher, Tiree Primary School

PUPILS from a remote island are swapping a windswept loch which was once the home of ancient Scots for a modern city pool to enhance their swimming skills.

The children from Tiree - the most westerly Isle in the Inner Hebrides - usually train next to 5000 year old settlements in the icy waters of Loch Bhasapol as they don’t have a pool on the island.

Loch Bhasapol has two small islands in it which are thought to be crannogs - ancient artificial islands that were built to be defensive homes and represented symbols of power and wealth.

But this week the 14 primary six and seven children from Tiree Primary School are ditching wetsuits to make the 180 mile journey to participate in Scottish Water and Scottish Swimming’s Learn to Swim lessons at Glasgow Club Gorbals.

Ruth Budge, their teacher at Tiree Primary School, said: “Trips to the mainland are a big highlight in our school calendar and we always try to fit in a visit to a pool for swimming and water confidence lessons.

 “Living on an island, swimming becomes an even more important skill to have. We usually hold lessons in Loch Bhasapol but with staff changes at the school, it just hasn’t been a possibility this year.

“Some of the children really only get the chance to go swimming when they’re on holiday once a year and because it’s not something they’re doing regularly, it’s really difficult for them to maintain and improve their abilities.”

The island kids will be given the lesson later this week by Glasgow Sport which delivers the national swimming framework to the local area and has helped to coordinate the trip.

Tiree is part of Live Argyll – the local Leisure Trust which is also part of the National Learn to Swim Framework, however a school trip to Glasgow enabled one of the other partner Leisure Trusts – Glasgow Sport to help out on this occasion.

Tiree has a population of just 650 and is the most westerly island of the Inner Hebrides. The school has taken the ferry to Oban before travelling by bus to Glasgow to enjoy their time on the mainland.

Brian Lironi, Director of Corporate Affairs for Scottish Water, said: “The Hebrides are surrounded by water so it’s so essential that children have the skills to be safe in the water.

“We’re extremely proud to be supporting the Learn to Swim Framework and to be giving children the opportunity to develop their swimming skills even when pools aren’t within easy reach.”

The Learn to Swim Framework helps to create quality learn to swim environments for children from birth upwards where they can become competent, confident and safe swimmers.

Sharon MacDonald, Director of Development at Scottish Swimming, said: “It’s just fantastic to see how the National Learn to Swim Framework and the strong partnerships formed within it between Leisure Trusts can support children living in the most remote areas like Tiree and give them special opportunities to swim and experience different swimming pools to help them flourish as swimmers.”

Andrena Hammond, Swimming Participation Manager, at Glasgow Sport said: “It’s fantastic having the children here. Seeing their enthusiasm and enjoyment in using our pool has been heartwarming.”

Ruth added: “We’re very grateful that everyone has been so accommodating to us. The kids have been so excited and they even started a countdown leading up to the trip.”

More info at: Scottish Swimming's Learn to Swim.