LTS is firstly about learning to swim with programmes for every need. Pool Splash is aimed at children with access to municipal, commercial and private pools, while Rural Splash caters for children living near rivers, lakes and dams. The Portapool Project is part of Rural Splash, where portable pools are used to teach children to swim. Ocean Splash explains to children the power of sea and teaches them skills to enjoy swimming in the ocean. We also further swimming at a young age through Club Splash, Recreational Galas and Splash Polo.
LTS views the ability to swim as a vital life skill which can assist in the continued reduction of the number of yearly drownings in South Africa.
Swimming is therefore promoted as a holistic and collaborative venture which is aligned with the national curriculum and contributes to government’s objectives of a better life for all, education for sustainable development and skills learning for human resource development.
Our philosophy of joint partnerships engages not only national government, but also local authorities, the private sector, as well as the public at large. Only by sharing responsibility and resources can a nationwide learn to swim programme succeed.
The LTS-programme puts priority on aquatic safety; therefore we teach water safety tips for different aquatic environments first. LTS teaches children water safety, water orientation and survival techniques in addition to basic swimming strokes.
LTS trains swimming instructors – a tremendous need in rural areas – and helps form swimming clubs so that the programme can become self sustainable.
The LTS Unit puts a strong priority on children and adults in previously disadvantaged areas and aims to equally empower everybody when it comes to access to public facilities and the availability of swimming instructors at such facilities.
The Learn to Swim Unit (LTS) is Swimming South Africa’s (SSA) operational division that ensures that everybody in South Africa has the opportunity to learn to swim.
SSA is a public benefit organisation which controls and promotes all aquatic disciplines in the Republic of South Africa. LTS is the swimming skills development platform of SSA and provides quality swimming programmes to all South Africans to deliver tomorrow’s Olympic swimming champions.
LTS is more than just the mere learning of a vital life skill to a child; it’s a holistic education and training programme aimed at everybody involved in learning to swim. We not only target learners, but also the general public, instructors, coaches and technical officials.
In addition, LTS develops and controls the Learn to Swim industry in South Africa and is the national custodian of public safety standards while learning to swim. We also support the needs and development of our accredited LTS Instructors by means of a national technical committee and a continuous development programme.
LTS’s mission is to make every child a swimmer. This means that we have to take swimming to South Africa’s children wherever they are and develop the capacity close to our clients. We want to reach every school in every community through local volunteers. We are therefore working in synergy with every level of government to integrate our strategy with governmental objectives.
Our current plan to achieve our objectives involves networking and consulting with municipalities and community leaders and then recruiting unemployed youth and mothers as volunteers to launch the LTS programme in these communities.
Swimming competence is a pre-requisite for volunteers – they first have to learn to swim if they do not have the ability. They are then trained in the presentation of Water Safety Education and Aquatic Awareness before they enter schools. Qualifying as SSA Certified LTS Instructors is compulsory for the LTS-programme to proceed.
Swimming lessons are then offered during school and after school by these qualified and certified LTS Instructors. The formation of affiliated clubs is the final goal of these community projects.
Partners and Sponsors
LTS administrates swimming as an integrated and joint endeavor. Learning to swim is a vital life skill which should be aligned with the national curriculum and is also promoted as a sport and as recreation. We therefore have significant partnerships with the Department of Sport and Recreation, the Department of Education and the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs.
We also have extensive partnerships in the private sector. Our sponsors include Telkom, The National Lottery, BESTmed, Arena International and Arena South Africa.
Zodiac and Waterlinx sponsored equipment for our Portapool Project. They provided us with portable pools, solar heating panels, filtration plants and chemicals and pools maintenance training.
Public education and awareness about swimming and its benefits both as a sport and as recreation are some of the primary objectives of the LTS-Unit. We do this through a Water Safety Education and Aquatic Awareness programme that is taken to schools countrywide by LTS presenters.
In addition Exhibition Events about the LTS services and programmes serves to inform the general public. The ten crucial water safety rules are always highlighted during these events and programmes.
Education is not only aimed at learners and the general public; educators, instructors, coaches and technical officials are also targeted with a series of courses. These courses aim to advance all the developmental aspects of swimming.
Water Safety Education
Water Safety Education and Aquatic Awareness are brought to schools by trained LTS presenters. They present safety messages to learners in all the official languages by utilizing class room posters, discussions and related activities like dramatic skits, poems and drawings.
The programme commences after an appointment with the school head who must confirm an appointment schedule and a presentation to school staff members.
The programme requires very committed presenters who are recruited from unemployed youth for their personal confidence, presentations skills and knowledge of the subject matter. They must be able to swim and be available to take swimming lessons.
The LTS presenters visit schools in teams of two in official SSA clothing and records SSA statistics on official forms.
The Water Safety Education programme is sponsored by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and follows strict recruiting, training and reporting standards.
Exhibition events inform the general public about LTS services and programmes. They also offer a support opportunity for sponsors, sympathizers and well-wishers.
The objectives of exhibition events are to advance the LTS mission: “Every Child a Swimmer”, to publicise the LTS education and training programmes, recruit young swimmers and parents to train as Certified LTS Instructors and attract swimming pool product suppliers as co-exhibitors.
An exhibition event is typically held at the start of the swimming season on 1 September and may involve expert talks by LTS Instructors and visits by swimming personalities, government officials and special guests.
Water Safety Rules
There are ten crucial water safety rules. The first 9 rules apply to adults and children alike, while rule 10 is aimed at children.
Rule 1: Learn to swim.
Seventy percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water. Learning to swim is therefore a survival skill which helps reduce drownings.
Rule 2: Never swim alone.
Although swimming is a survival skill, even good swimmers can drown when they experience difficulties in the water; for instance a cramp which immobilizes a muscle. Therefore swimming alone is always unsafe.
Rule 3:Do not swim at a river mouth.
An undercurrent forms where the river and the sea meet which flows in a different direction from the surface current. An undercurrent is very strong and sucks anything and anybody into the sea.
Rule 4: Never dive into unclear or shallow water.
Diving headlong into something invisible underneath the water or into the bottom of a body of water could cause serious damage, unconsciousness and even paralysis.
Rule 5: Do not play in swamps, on rocks or river banks.
Slippery and unstable surfaces near water are always dangerous and may cause sudden falls into unknown depths.
Rule 6: Beware of animals like crocodile and hippopotami under the water.
These large and dangerous African aquatic animals keep close to riverbanks and attack easily when humans intrude upon their habitats.
Rule 7: Beware of swift flowing undercurrents.
Water can flow very forcefully through constricted areas, especially during floods when the volume of water strengthens the current.
Rule 8: Check the depth of the water before you enter.
Familiarize yourself with the depth of a river, lake of dam by using a dipstick.
Rule 9: Have a rope or stick handy to help someone in trouble.
Only go into the water to help someone in trouble if you are a qualified lifesaver. Otherwise try to help someone in trouble by means of a rope or stick or a floatation device tied to a rope that is thrown into the water.
Rule 10: Adult permission and supervision is a must.
Never go swimming without permission and always swim where a parent, guardian or adult may oversee you and your friends.
LTS provides quality programmes to all South Africans not matter where they are. Our programmes were developed bearing in mind the different aquatic environments where swimming is enjoyed as a sport and as recreation.
South Africa has a long coastline with many citizens enjoying our oceans. Ocean Splash is aimed at swimming skills development, water sport in the ocean and other ocean activities.
Rural Splash puts the priority on swimming in and around rivers, lakes and dams and is fore mostly aimed at rural communities. Because of the assumption that the transference of swimming as a life skill must be swimming pool based, rural South Africa has in the most part been left off the drive to teach the country to swim. The Portapool Project is an initiative to address the lack of swimming pools in rural areas.
Pool Splash caters for learning to swim in public and school swimming pools. LTS actively seeks partnerships with municipalities and hope to have Certified LTS Instructors in every public swimming pool in South Africa in the future.
Pool Splash offers children in urban areas swimming lessons and safe recreation at public and school swimming pools. The programme is conducted in the shallow end under the guidance of an SSA Certified LTS Instructor who must be in the water with the learners.
The objective of the programme is to teach learners swimming pool safety and discipline, a love for swimming and introductory swimming skills like floating, gliding, blowing bubbles, kicking and pulling. The lessons are given with the support of floatation equipment to assist learners with confidence.
The class ratio is typically 10 to 1; should there be more than ten learners a pool deck supervisor must also form part of the class. The instructor must be conspicuous with luminous coloured gear and cap. A first aid kit must be available on site and all emergency numbers must be well displayed at all times.
Ocean Splash offerschildren at the coast the opportunity to learn how to be safe in the ocean and safe recreation in ‘rolling water’. The programme is conducted under the guidance of an SSA Certified LTS Instructor who has completed the specialised Ocean Splash Instructors’ Course.
The objective of the programme is to teach learners swimming safety and discipline in and around the ocean; surf swimming skills like wading, boarding, jumping and diving and an understanding of the wash of the ocean and the effects of the wind. Lessons are given with the support of a boogie board and wrist strap as basic equipment.
The class ratio is 10 to 1. The programme must take place in a ‘safe swim’ zone cordoned off with beacons of yellow and red flags. The programme may only be conducted in a zone patrolled by duty lifeguards. The instructor must be conspicuous with luminous coloured gear and cap. A first aid kit must be available on site.
Rural Splash offers children and adults living in rural communities swimming lessons and safe recreation around rivers, lakes and dams. The programme is conducted under the guidance of an SSA Certified LtS Instructor who has completed the specialised training for the rural environment.
The objective of the programme is to teach water safety education to communities living around rivers, lakes and dams and swimming lessons in demarcated ‘safe swim’ zones. The lessons are given with the support of floatation equipment to assist learners with confidence. The programme also aims to recruit and train local youth to establish community swimming clubs to sustain the programme.
The class ratio is 10 to 1. The programme must take place in a cordoned-off area with a safety beacon and rescue devise within safe-reach proximity to all learners in the water. The instructor must be conspicuous with luminous coloured gear and cap. A dipstick must also be used to establish the depth of the water before the programme starts. A senior instructor must assess the zone for underwater obstructions and give a full report to the programme supervisor.
The Portapool Project introduces children at farm or rural schools to swimming using portable pools.
The objective of the project is to establish an outreach programme which empowers a community and the schools in the area and helps to alleviate the lack of amenities. The initiative must be approved by the local community leaders, the school’s governing body and parents. During negotiations, installation and hand-over, the emphasis on ownership is reiterated through word and deed.
The portable pools are installed in lockable classrooms that are made available by the local Department of Education and feature filtration equipment and solar heating. The heated water ensures that the programme can run throughout the year.
The use of classrooms guarantees a safe, controlled and centralised environment. The enclosed location also ensures strict supervision and protects the pool better against environmental damages, while the water quality can be monitored more satisfactorily. The portable pool becomes part of a total programme in outcomes based education; practical maths projects calculating the water volume and science projects where learners have to determine the pH-value of the water are incorporated.
Human resource development is a critical first step and precedes pool installation. Young unemployed adults and mothers are recruited for swimming lessons and LTS Instructor training. Once the LTS Instructors are certified by SSA, swimming lessons at a class ratio of 10 to 1 commences.
Club Splash gets new clubs started and established, mainly in previously disadvantaged areas of South Africa. The aquatic clubs should become sustainable and increase the number of club swimmers in development areas.
LTS also assist these clubs with equipment requirements and capacitate the administrators and coaches of these clubs. Where it is needed LTS and SSA leverage the upgrade of the facilities where these clubs operate.
Recreational galas celebrate the swimming achievements of young learners and their Instructors. Here parents have the opportunity to witness the learning achievements of their children, while the learners gain early experience in participating in swimming galas. The events are coordinated by organizing committees, technical officials and safety officers who assist learners who are unsure, uncomfortable or scared.
Recreational galas are held at venues that are easily accessible to the public – typically municipal pools. Events cater for the varying abilities and age groups of learners. The standard distance for every event is 25 meters. Races which allow for floatation devices are included and may comprise kicker board races, armband races and swim belt races. Participation is free and learners are rewarded with participation certificates or medals for partaking and not for the positions they achieve.
A recreational gala is a community event which showcases swimming as a worthwhile social investment to our sponsors, government and local municipalities. It ensures that learners and instructors meet at a central venue which coaches can also use for talent scouting, while schools and instructors acknowledge the young learners’ achievements through awards.
Splash Polo is targeted at children between the ages of 11 and 15 who cannot swim. Young volunteers are recruited and trained as league organisers and match officials. The game is played in the shallow end only, with the emphasis on fun.
School leagues play Wednesdays after school either utilising school pools or local municipality pools. The objective of Splash Polo is to draw large crowds of boys and girls – both as players and spectators – and at the same time get these youngsters interested in learning to swim and in water polo.
As the custodian of the Learn to Swim-industry in South Africa LTS institutes public safety standards and quality control through a public standards safety assurance programme.
A national and standardised learner award system is part of our assurance to the public of quality swimming lessons.
LTS also keeps a database of SSA Certified LTS Instructors and Accredited Swim Centres which is available to everybody.
Public Standards Safety Assurance
LTS’s Public Standards and Safety Assurance aims to guarantee the highest quality of teaching sensitivity and safety while learning to swim under the guidance of an SSA Certified LTS Instructor. The programme also institutes public safety standards in the swimming industry. It ensures that the public has access to information on standards and knows what to expect from swimming lessons.
Public standards and safety is secured by means of a code of ethics and practice that is observed by everybody involved with swimming instruction. Everyone teaching swimming must be qualified as an SSA LTS Instructor and must be registered with SSA on an annual basis. Instructors must have a current First Aid Level 1 certificate and have risk insurance cover through SSA. Instructors must pursue a continuous professional development programme. Instructor accreditation is renewable every 4 years and is subject to a point system which must be earned through the development programme.
Swim schools and centres are checked for safety standards and accredited as SSA Accredited Swim Centres every three years by the Swimming Instructors’ Technical Committee who also administrates the instructor and swim centre accreditation database.
Swimming South Africa as the standards generating authority for swimming in the country established the Learner Award System as a proudly South African standard. This system is also intended to ensure public safety standards and best practice teaching models, professionalism of the highest standard and the protection of the rights of the child as being paramount.
The Learner Award System was developed as a national standard that would ensure smooth transfer from school to school and from province to province. The intention is for the system to become the national competence criteria for assessment at every level of swimming teaching.
The Learner Swimming Awards System was adopted in principle at the 2006 Swimming Instructors’ Conference, while the designs for the awards were accepted at the 2007 Technical Committees’ Conference.
There are three phases to the system which include the beginners chart, the badge awards and the certificate awards.
Phase One: The Beginners Chart
A seal maps the learner’s progress by means of a set of colourful stickers. These include an understanding of water safety rules, safe entry and exit to and from the swimming pool as well as floating and kicking in the water.
Phase Two: The Badge Awards – Bronze, Silver and Gold
This maps progress from propelling over 5m to 20m and then confidently submerging into water and knowing the Water Safety Code.
Phase Three: The Certificate Awards – Bronze, Silver and Gold
This maps progress in the execution of the freestyle and breaststroke, showing good technique and somersaulting and treading in the deep end. There is also an introduction to swim competition diving, the backstroke and butterfly. Most important here is also knowing how to execute the ‘reach rescue’ and what C.P.R. means.
Only SSA Certified LTS Instructors are allowed to teach swimming. Certification is attained by successfully completing the LTS Instructors’ Course. To enter the course, candidates must be at least 18 years of age and be able to swim 50 meters in any of the 4 FINA recognized strokes.
The LTS course itself involves a 2 day practical programme and theoretical content which has to be studied in the candidate’s own time. Candidates must log 20 training hours with a Certified LTS Instructor, before writing a theoretical exam and passing a practical assessment. Successful candidates are awarded an instructor certificate which is valid for four years.
Instructor registration is done at the SSA Provincial Office and must be renewed every year on the 1st of May. The registration fee is R165.00. Instructors must complete a member registration form and produce certified copies of their SSA LTS Instructor Certificate, First Aid Level 1 Certificate and Identity Document. The Instructor’s details are then forwarded to the Provincial Technical Committee who does the registration.
Registered Instructors receive insurance cover which includes personal accident and public liability cover. Instructors do not need to be members of a swimming club to register.
Swim Centre Accreditation gives assurance to the public of professional and safe environments for teaching swimming. Only registered LTS Instructors may apply to have their swim centres accredited by SSA. After an applicant completed the relevant form and paid a R500 non-refundable fee to SSA a Provincial Technical Committee Inspector will inspect the operation according to a public standard assurance checklist that is accessible by the applicant.
When the checklist standards are not met, a second and third inspection may be requested. An applicant who is dissatisfied with an inspection report may request a second opinion from another inspector. Approved checklists are processed and an SSA Plaque is issued to acknowledge approved centers. Centre accreditation is renewable every three years and is an insurance cover prerequisite.
Swimming Instructors’ Technical Committee
The National Swimming Instructors’ Technical Committee is representative of all Swimming Instructors in South Africa and addresses the needs and development of Swimming Instructors. It is the highest decision making authority accountable to the Executive of Swimming South Africa. The committee consults with provincial units on all matters of national importance and is advisory to the SSA’s Education and Training Unit for the LTS Professional Development Programme.
The national committee is also responsible for public standards assurance and warrants adherence to the SSA Code of Conduct. It creates opportunities and support for demographic and gender balanced representivity and functions as a service provider for provincial technical committees. The national committee also hosts the bi-annual National Swimming Instructors’ Conference and establishes support for the SSA Swim Shop.
The Provincial Technical Committees advise the National Technical Committee on needs at provincial level and represents swimming instructors at SSA provincial affiliate council meetings. The provincial committees organise and co-ordinate the workshops for the Continuous Development Programme and manage the administration and control of workshop funds and attendance.
The Provincial Committees also organise Provincial Instructors Seminars in the year between the National Conferences. The provincial committees order and receive equipment and badges on behalf of instructors. Applications for swim centre accreditation are processed by the provincial committees; they also provide lists of accredited swim centres where new LTS Instructor candidates can log teaching hours and provide SSA accredited facilitators and examiners for LTS courses.
Continuous Development Programme
This programme develops the standard of teaching, health and safety among instructors and learners. It ensures that instructors are kept abreast of international developments; present a more professional service and gain market respect and popularity.
The continuous learning curriculum includes courses in safety, personal development, business development, stroke development, specialised training and community service.
Every instructor needs to attend a certain amount of workshops and conferences every year to earn 30 points over 4 years to be able to renew their LTS Swimming Instructor Certification.
Workshops are conducted during the winter months when Instructors are not so busy and are organised by the Provincial Swimming Instructors’ Technical Committee.