Swim Stages

Swim England Stages 1 – 7

Our comprehensively planned teaching programme follows Swim England’s Learn To Swim Pathway. Children are assessed on their ability at the end of each term for progression on to the next level and written reports are emailed to parents. Achievement is rewarded through the Swim England awards scheme.

These stage awards follow the national syllabus produced by Swim England. They are designed to work on building confidence in the water, improving skills and ability until children can swim effortlessly with good technique.

Little Penguins (1½ – 3yrs)   and Stage 1 (3+ yrs)

The early stages are really important for developing the building blocks for future technique and the skills that are learnt should be fun and enjoyable.

During  Little Penguins and Stage 1, children will be encouraged to move around the pool and become confident with water on their face.

All Little Penguin and Stage 1 swimmers are provided with 1:2:1 support in the water by either the teacher or a teaching assistant (helper). Parents observe the lesson from the poolside, or the balcony, and do not enter the water.

Swimmers in stage 1  have the opportunity to achieve the Puffin Award the pool, the I Can Blow Bubbles, I Can Jump In and I Can Float on My Back Awards and the Duckling 1 and Duckling 2 Awards.

Stage 2

Swimmers are also introduced to aquatic breathing and taught to make safe entries into the water, including jumping.

They will develop basic floating and learn how to rotate to regain an upright position without support. 

Stage 2 further develops water confidence and teaches swimmers to breathe confidently while in the water.

Being confident with the face in the water, or having water on the face, is crucial to stroke development. Learning to be happy in the water at an early stage will allow swimmers to develop other skills more quickly later on.

This stage also introduces various safety skills, such as being able to float, while also developing a swimmer’s kicking ability, leading to independent travel in water.

Swimmers will have the opportunity to achieve the Rainbow 5m Distance Award and the Duckling 3 Award.

Stage 3

During Swim England Learn to Swim Stage 3, swimmers will develop their kicks, on both their front and their back.

They streamline through push and glides, whilst also swimming underwater.

Swimmers will develop safe entries into the water, including submersion, and travel up to 10 metres on their front and back. Water safety knowledge and rotation skills will also be progressed.

One of the fun areas of this stage is learning to go under the water to pick up an object.

This helps develop skills for a number of different disciplines, including synchro, diving and competitive swimming.

Swimmers will have the opportunity to earn the Rainbow Distance 10m and 25m Awards.

Stage 4

Swim England Learn to Swim Stage 4 sees swimmers perfect their leg kicks for all four strokes and further develop push and glides, while also being introduced to sculling.

They will develop an understanding of buoyancy through a range of skills and should swim 10 metres to the Swim England Expected Standards.

By the end of this stage, swimmers are expected to have a clear ability to perform recognisable leg kicks for all four strokes.

Swimmers will have the opportunity to gain their Rainbow Distance 10m, 25m and 50m Awards, also the Rainbow Stroke 5m Award in front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and the Preliminary Safety Skills Award.

Stage 5

During Swim England Learn to Swim Stage 5, swimmers will develop their skills in treading water, learn the correct arm pulls for all four strokes and learn how to do handstands and somersaults.

This means they will develop their technique and perform all strokes to the Swim England Expected Standards.

The emphasis is on ensuring all work done in the previous stages is developed further.

A key activity in Learn to Swim Stage 5 is sculling, which is an important skill to master as it is not only prevalent in artistic swimming, but is also vital to ensuring water safety.

Learning to tread water is an important area of development and again is a crucial lifesaving skill.

Swimmers can achieve the  Rainbow Stroke 10m Award in all four strokes, their Rainbow Distance 25m, 50m and 100m Awards and a Safety Skills Award.

Stage 6

Swim England Learn to Swim Stage 6 teaches swimmers how to prepare for exercise, while developing an efficient technique for all four strokes and further developing surface dives.

The effective swimming skills taught include coordination, breathing and an understanding of water safety.

Within this stage, swimmers will work on all the other strokes, including streamlining, improving their technique with both their arms and their legs.

Swimmers will also learn to swim in clothes and understand how to be safe when they’re in and around water.

In Stage 6, they can also achieve their Rainbow Distance 25m, 50m, 100m and 200m Awards and work towards their Personal Survival 1 Award

Stage 7 

Swim England Learn to Swim Stage 7 focuses on fully developing all four swimming strokes, as well as building stamina.

Swimmers should develop a quality stroke technique for up to 100 metres, incorporating the skills they have learnt throughout the stages and combining them to develop a linked routine.

They should successfully complete an obstacle course, which combines a variety of skills they have learnt from Stages 1 to 7.

Swimmers will have developed a range of skills in previous stages and these are now brought into a sequence.

By the end of this stage, swimmers will be able to swim 25 metres of all four strokes to Swim England’s Expected Standards. Swimmers will also be able to complete a continuous swim of 100 metres using three of these different strokes.

Whilst in stage 7 swimmers have the opportunity to achieve their Rainbow Distance 200m and 400m Awards  and work towards their Personal Survival 2 Award and their Bronze Challenge award.

More detailed information on the testing criteria for any of the stages is available on request from lessonsadmin@wcpsc.org.uk.

Testing is carried out for all students towards the end of each term. However, students don’t have to wait until the end of term to move up. Instructors will recommend to the lesson’s supervisor if at any point they feel a student is ready to progress to the next level.

A child entering the programme in stage 1 at 3 years of age can be expected to progress between stages on average once every 2-3 terms. Children that have swum continuously throughout the year will generally complete stage 7 by about age 9.

Once swimmers have completed stage 7 they have the opportunity to enrol our Swimming Academy (Discovery, Primary and Junior Challenge squads). Those displaying the potential and enthusiasm are encouraged to consider entering one of our competitive squads which involves training several times a week and taking part in galas.