Edinburgh kids benefit from vital lessons to support national cause Olympic star teaches crucial water safety classes at local pool

Edinburgh Leisure | Saturday 24th June 2023 4:05pm

Edinburgh kids benefit from vital lessons to support national cause

Olympic star teaches crucial water safety classes at local pool

Young swimmers in Portobello have received a day of vital water safety lessons alongside an Olympic medallist to mark Drowning Prevention Week.

Former Olympian Stephen Milne made a star appearance during a Learn to Swim event held at Portobello Swim Centre, which delivered water safety lessons to 77 children as part of the awareness week.

Nine swim classes were delivered across the day by local swim teachers and the Olympic swimmer, teaching crucial water safety skills, from floating techniques to the Water Safety Code. The event helped build on Learn to Swim’s foundations of creating ‘Generation Swim’ – a generation of safe, competent and confident swimmers.

Portobello Swim Centre, part of Edinburgh Leisure, is one of 160 pools in Scotland to offer Learn to Swim lessons as part of a National Framework made possible through a partnership between Scottish Swimming and Scottish Water. 

Stephen Milne said: “No one should ever have to feel unsafe or uncomfortable in water, that’s why days like these are so important to reinforce the importance of water safety. One reason why Learn to Swim events like this are so important is to energise young swimmers to continue to learn and improve what is a vital life skill.

“It’s always a thrill getting back in the pool but particularly when it can leave a real impact on future generations.”

Stephen won a silver medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil and has 5 Commonwealth Games medals having competed in three separate Commonwealth Games since 2014. He is also a world and European champion. 

Following the lessons, Stephen hosted a captivating Q&A session to engage with all attendees. To commemorate the day, he presented aspiring swimmers with autographed swim caps and t-shirts, leaving a lasting impression with budding swim stars.

Kate Cramb, Operations Manager at Edinburgh Leisure said: “To host such a meaningful event is a real honour. Water safety is such a huge issue especially during the summer months when families start to spend more time near water - so these vital lessons genuinely do save lives.

“It was also great to welcome an Olympic star in Stephen, who was brilliant in reinforcing the importance of learning to swim to kids, all the while keeping it really fun and uplifting.”

The event marked the end of Drowning Prevention Week, in which more than 75,000 children were offered vital water safety lessons through the Learn to Swim National Framework across the span of the week.

Euan Lowe, CEO of Scottish Swimming, said: “Swimming lessons are the absolute foundations to ensuring water safety. To have Stephen’s presence and active involvement in them made for an unforgettable experience for the children which will hopefully inspire them to continue their safe swimming journey.

“Drowning is far too common in Scotland, and it is something that we are committed to addressing as a partnership. The event in Portobello allowed us to do that in an engaging way with children.”

Drowning Prevention Week, organised by the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS), stands as one of the largest water safety campaigns in the UK and Ireland, specifically targeting the summer season. Its primary goal is to equip individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge to make informed decisions regarding water safety, particularly during the summer months.

Brian Lironi, Director of Corporate Affairs with Scottish Water, added: “We are thrilled with the tremendous success of the water safety event, which undoubtedly left a lasting impact on all participants.

“It is so important to see the next generation of confident swimmers engaging in water safety. Drowning prevention is a topic that needs serious attention all year round but the awareness week gave us another opportunity to reinforce lifesaving skills.”

Learn to Swim is a National Framework committed to creating supportive and quality environments in which children can learn to swim regardless of their age, ability, or skill level. It aims to develop competent swimmers, as well as encouraging youngsters to adopt a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle with sport and fun at its heart.

For more information on the Learn to Swim programme, visit


About Scottish Swimming 

Scottish Swimming is the national governing body for swimming and aquatics in Scotland. Scottish Swimming represents our clubs, swim schools, aquatic disciplines, athletes, teachers and thousands of talented and committed volunteers across the entire swimmer pathway. We are focused on delivering in the following key areas to reach our vision to ensure that everyone can swim: More Swimmers; Stronger Clubs; Supporting Athletes; Active Communities Further info at  

About Scottish Water

Scottish Water provides vital water and waste water services, essential to daily life, to over 2.6 million households and more than 150,000 business premises across Scotland.  At the heart of our business is everyone who lives and works in communities across Scotland. Every day we deliver 1.52 billion litres of clear, fresh drinking water – enough to fill over 605 Olympic swimming pools. We also take away and treat 1.10 billion litres of waste water and help protect the environment across Scotland – every day of the year.  More at


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