Swimming Certificates and Badges Explained

There are well over 5,000 publicly accessible swimming pools in England and swimming is England’s most popular mass participation sport. 2.5 million people swimming at least once a week!

No wonder two third of primary schoolchildren in England take swim lessons. It could be school swim lessons part of school curriculum or at swim schools as an after school activity.

If you’re a parent or guardian who has already enrolled your toddler or child in extracurricular swim lessons, well done – you’re getting your child off to a really good start of being safe in the water.

In England, over many terms of swim lessons, your child is more likely to receive different swimming badges and certificates. If you wonder what they actually mean, we are here to help by explaining them.

First, let’s explain the rationale and process behind the swimming badge and certificate.

At Blue Wave, we frequently get questions about when children will be awarded the next certificate and badge. I feel if I explain what they actually mean and how they reflect your child’s swimming ability, it could be helpful to readers of this blog.

Why Swim Teachers Give Out Swimming Badges & Certificates?

A swimmer at Blue Wave Swim School with her Swim England swimming badge and certificate

In England there are two major organisations that provide a nationally recognised and reputable swimming badge and certificate scheme:

  1. Swim England (formerly known as ASA)
  2. Swimming Teachers Association (STA)

We follow the Swim England national teaching plan for teaching swimming and so we offer Swim England Swimming certificates and badges.

This is how the system works:

Designed for younger children, they mainly focus on developing water confidence and learning basic swimming skills s which are the foundation for all swimming strokes. They go from level 1 to 4 (there used to be a level 5 but this was discounted recently) and you can see the criteria by going to this link.

children at Blue Wave Swim school achieved 25 meter swimming badges and certificatesThese badges and certificates are mainly focused on rewarding children for their technical capabilities in swimming competitive strokes (front crawl, back stroke, breast stroke and butterfly). After passing Stage 7, children are ready to go to progress to club standard swimming.

The Swim England Rainbow Distance Awards are designed to complement the 10 different stages of the Swim England Learn to Swim Programme. To see the criteria you can visit this link.

Less widely used and less-known certificate and badge system but, they are very good to award the overall aquatic skills. These certificates are more specific awards for water-safety and personal survival skills.

25 Metre Badge & Certificate

This is by far the most well-known swimming badge & certificate in England amongst parents especially those with primary school age children.

Just like Maths, Swimming is a compulsory part of the national school curriculum. By the age of 11, children should be able to swim confidently and competently over a distance of 25 metres. However, the goal is water safety rather than stroke technique

At school swimming, children will have to jump in the water and swim 25 metres without pausing to get their 25 meters swimming ‘tick’ for school swimming. Within the curriculum, the 25 metres assessment is done without any strict requirement of the technical ability for swimming. So, there is no need to swim with any good technique.

However, at Blue Wave Swim School, when we issue a 25 metre swimming badge and certificate. It means our swimmers can swim 25 metres both front crawl and backstroke with recognisable and relatively polished technique.

Achieving 25 meter swimming badge for many parents is a major breakthrough and sign of a competent swimmer. Many parents stop swimming lessons as soon as their children receive their 25 meter badge. However, getting a certificate for swimming 25 meters is normally possible after just a few terms of swim lessons. So, it shouldn’t be viewed as tick for full water competency or sign for stopping swim lessons.

In many countries the definition of being a competent swimmer is an ability to swim 200 metres continuously and to tread water for at least 2 mins.

A child’s ability to swim 25m in a pool is likely to help to survival in open water. But, water safety experts agree there is a need to update the school swim curriculum.

‘I Can Swim’ Badge & Certificate: The Real competency

Explaining the England Swim Certificate and Badge SystemFor children who start very early with us as toddlers and pre-schoolers, the first stage is Duckling Level 1 and normally the ‘learn to swim’ journey in our swim school ends around age 9 when they pass stage 7.

Getting the Stage 7 Swimming Badge and Certificate means children can swim freestyle (front crawl), backstroke and breaststroke followed by survival backstroke and butterfly.

Children who achieve the Stage 7 Swimming Badge at our swim school, they can do the following:

  • swim all the competitive strokes
  • 200 metres of continuous swimming
  • Diving headfirst into the water and collect objects from a depth of 2 metres
  • Jumping into the water from a height of 1 metre.

So a child is not properly water-safe until he/she passed Stage 7 and OR achieved a 200-metre swimming badge and certificate.

A child who can swim at least 200 metres continuously at Blue Wave, has to use at least three competitive strokes to swim. 200 meters swimming is without pausing or resting between laps.

Our swimmers normally swim 200 meters by doing a mix of front crawl, backstroke and breaststroke to pass their 200-metre certificate test.

Most children at Blue Wave can swim 200 metres in 15 minutes or under by the age of nine.

swimming badges swing on towels

And a final top tip? Don’t lose the badge! Sew it on to your child’s swim suit or towel as soon as possible. So they can proudly show it off; they’ve earned it!

Contact us To Enquire About Our Swim Lessons


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4 Replies to “Swimming Certificates and Badges Explained”

  1. Hi
    How can I replace quite a few swiming badge that I ve earn during my school days. They were loss during the moved

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