As part of a longitudinal study of children, 941 mothers were asked to report on their childrens' swimming experiences and abilities. At age nine, twenty-nine per cent of the children could swim only a few strokes or not at all. A disproportionate number of children who could swim more than a few strokes came from high socio-economic backgrounds, from families where one or more of the parents could swim, and which scored higher on an index of active recreational orientation. There were no significant sex differences in swimming ability. There were 97 incidents reported where a child had been in difficulties while in water and had to be rescued. The importance of collecting data on such incidents is discussed.
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