There is Léon Marchand and his three gold medals won at the swimming world championship in Fukuoka (Japan). And then there is the daily reality in France: almost half of the children who leave the class of 6e cannot or cannot swim well. Since 2021, the Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Cojop) has implemented the “1, 2, 3 Swim! “, with the aim of “develop aquatic ease so that children who cannot swim become familiar with water”explains Marie Barsacq, director in charge of the impact and legacy of Paris 2024.
How was born the operation “1, 2, 3 Swim! »?
It is a device that we imagined in 2020 and really launched in 2021. The idea was to offer free swimming lessons, to allow wider opening slots in public swimming pools, which are often closed in the morning, and to develop water skills, so that children who cannot swim become familiar with water.
We started with mobile pools installed in areas lacking in pools, such as Seine-Saint-Denis. In a town like Dugny, which does not have a swimming pool, 78% of children entering 6e can’t swim.
However, learning to swim, when it is not done at school, is expensive for families. We also know that when a new swimming pool is built, it takes time for the population to take it over and for the children to come and swim there. It is therefore essential that they learn to swim before the delivery of new equipment.
This device immediately found its public. In 2021, 2,000 children benefited from it. This summer, there will be 20,000! It shows real enthusiasm.
From now on, this program no longer only concerns Seine-Saint-Denis?
No, we deployed “1, 2, 3 Swim! in other territories. This summer, in Marseilles for example, swimming areas have been set up at sea, at Pointe-Rouge, in the cove of Corbières in L’Estaque, at the foot of the northern districts. Overseas too, there were needs: in Martinique, Guyana, Mayotte and Polynesia.
In Hauts-de-France, the Somme department has been very driving force and has provided funding. As we also support sports clubs to make them more inclusive, with the aim of having 3,000 more clubs welcome children with disabilities, we were very sensitive to the project carried out by the Somme to develop the learning of swimming for children with disabilities.
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