Students support swimming lessons

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Christine Hoffmann (r.) has trained a total of 15 physical education students in
Christine Hoffmann (r.) has trained a total of 15 physical education students in recent weeks. Image: Project SuSu / TUM
Project of the Applied Sports Science Unit aims to compensate for deficits

More and more children cannot swim safely. The situation was worsened by the fact that hundreds of thousands of children were unable to attend swimming courses due to the corona pandemic. Accordingly the number of swimming tests decreased by 70 percent. In a pilot project by the Applied Sports Science Unit at the Technical University of Munich, students have now been trained to support swimming lessons in primary schools.

Due to the Corona pandemic, swimming lessons could not be offered for a long time by clubs, (swimming) schools and other institutions such as the Wasserwacht or the Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft (DLRG). This particularly affects children of primary school age.

The DLRG estimates that more than 100,000 children in Bavaria alone were unable to attend swimming lessons due to the pandemic, and fears that an entire generation of non-swimmers is growing up. A perfectly justified fear, when one knows that there was an overall 70 percent drop in swimming tests.

The Applied Sports Science Unit with Dr. Christine Hoffmann, staff member in the swimming department, now wants to counteract this development with the new project "Students Support Swimming Lessons", or "SuSu" for short.

The goal of "SuSu" is to make up for the lack of training over the past year. The project is being carried out in support with the Government of Upper Bavaria, the Munich School Authority and the specialist sports advisory service for Munich’s elementary school at the Munich School Authority.

"The demand from schools for our free offer was enormous," says Dr. Hoffmann. "We had not expected so many inquiries. But this shows very well how high the demand for qualified swimming lessons as well as trained personnel currently is."

Starting in November 2021, a first group of 15 physical education students will be sent to a total of 30 elementary school classrooms to assist physical education teachers with swimming lessons.

In particular, those teachers who have to teach around 20 to 30 children on their own are to be given qualified help at their side. This should enable the students to be divided into different ability classes and thus provide more individualized support for beginners.

"We have trained the 15 students in rescue and beginner swimming in recent weeks, in this respect they are well prepared to then go to elementary schools in and around Munich after the fall vacations," explains Dr. Hoffmann.

"We want to use this primarily to help classes in which swimming lessons are taught by teachers alone, who have a particularly large number of non-swimmers or possibly also special children with handicaps or other impairments in the class," summarizes Dr. Hoffmann.