A nine-year-old's life has been changed for the better after starting swimming lessons last year. 

Jack Clews, who has autism and is non-verbal, has grown in confidence, communication, and social skills since joining an additional support needs (ASN) Learn to Swim class with South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture last year.

Glasgow Times:

"Since joining the swim classes, Jack’s confidence has grown not only in the pool but in everyday life," his mum Claire said. 

She added: “He goes to other extracurricular activities, and you can see he is more engaged and keener to get involved.

“Although Jack is non-verbal, he is learning new words through swimming. We are really proud of him; he has got his five-metre swimming certificate.

“We can tell he’s genuinely excited to go every week and get into the pool.”

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Now, as part of Autism Awareness Day (April 2) Claire wants to raise awareness of the social benefits for people learning to swim and how it may be able to help other kids with ASN. 

She said: “The programme, as well as Jack’s swim teachers, really tailor their approach to focus on visual cues rather than verbal which makes a huge difference. It just shows they understand how he learns.

“Autism should never hinder anyone from learning to swim; to be able to be safe around water is a vital life skill, but we have first-hand experiences in how swimming can provide so much more.”

Glasgow Times:

South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture’s Learn to Swim Framework – a partnership between Scottish Swimming and Scottish Water – is open to everyone regardless of disability or skill levels, with the partnership committed to creating a supportive environment for all.

Euan Lowe, CEO of Scottish Swimming, said: "Swimming provides countless benefits beyond safety. For autistic children like Jack, our programme builds confidence, communication, and independence.

“Jack's remarkable progress exemplifies how tailored instruction and support fosters skill development for children with additional needs.

“His story highlights everything swimming can offer in terms of health, social growth, and achievement.”

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Brian Lironi, director of corporate affairs at Scottish Water, added: “Learn to Swim gives all children the opportunity to learn and enjoy being in the water in a safe way.

“One of our aims is to create a generation of safe and responsible swimmers, where children of all ages and abilities also get to experience the health and social benefits that swimming generates.

“Jack’s story is proof that everybody can and should learn to swim. Hopefully, this will encourage more children and parents to experience the benefits of learning to swim.” 

For more information on the Learn to Swim programme, click HERE