A NEW safe swimming campaign has been launched by an Olympic champion in Bournemouth to protect youngsters in the sea.

Two-time World Champion and Olympic silver medallist Keri-Anne Payne officially launched the Swim Safe programme in Bournemouth, as well as getting involved in the skills to keep youngsters safe in an open water environment.

The project, which began last year in Bude, has expanded to a number of places including Bournemouth. It is being run by the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), the RNLI and coastal activity park at Boscombe.

David Collier, manager of the Coastal Activity Park, said: “We’re delighted to host the Swim Safe event on our beach here.

“Learning to swim should be a top priority for all children. It’s a vital life skill so having free lessons is a fantastic opportunity.

“The RNLI patrols our beaches all through the summer months, but nothing beats becoming a competent swimmer. Once you can swim, it can lead to trying plenty of the other water sports available at the park.”

Jon Glenn, head of learn to swim at the ASA, added: “Although many children learn to swim the basic 25metres set out in the national curriculum in their local pool, open water situations have their own set of dangers and challenges which cannot necessarily be recreated during lessons in an indoor pool.

“While pool swimming is important to help improve safety for our children in general, we often forget that many children swim most often while they’re on holiday.

“Some of the tragedies the country saw in 2013 were a result of children not understanding the differences between swimming in an indoor pool and swimming in an open water environment.”

To get involved contact 07508 737477 or go to swimming.org/swimsafe