Study reveals new Canadian ‘tweens’ at higher risk for drowning

Summer time is here! Time to grab your bathing suit and head off to the beach or pool! Swimming is the most popular water-related summer activity, especially among tweens but did you know new Canadians aged 11-14 are five times more likely to be unable to swim.

That’s a scary thought! A new study done by the Lifesaving Society, Canada’s leading organization responsible for drowning preventing, has found tweens (aged 11-14) who are new to Canada may not be able to swim like their Canadian-born classmates. The study also found that even knowing this, 93% of new Canadian tweens say they participate in activities in, on or around water. This study was done to better understand the attitudes and behaviours of Canadian tweens and around swimming and water safety.


The results suggest that new Canadians have a higher risk than those born in Canada. Those not born in Canada or living here less than 5 years are up to seven times more likely to be unable to swim.

  • 68% of new Canadian tweens identified swimming as an activity they participate in vs. 90% of tweens born in Canada; however, nearly one in five (17%) of new Canadian tweens report they are unable to swim vs. 3% of those born in Canada.
  • Another one in three (34%) say they can only swim a little vs. 10% of those born in Canada.
  • Many new Canadian tweens who can swim aren’t confident about their abilities. One quarter of new Canadian tweens who say they can swim also say they would not be able to meet the Swim to Survive standard of  “jumping into deep water at a pool, supporting themselves on the surface for 1 minute and then swimming 2 lengths of a community pool”.
  • Many new Canadian tweens also worry they might drown or get injured while swimming (49% of new Canadians vs. 21% of those born in Canada).

There are programs available for Canadians new and born that can help teach about swimming and water safety to ensure everyone has an enjoyable summer and knows what to do in case of an emergency water situation.


The Lifesaving Society’s Swim To Survive is a program offered to grade 3 students, teaching them three basic skills in sequence: roll into deep water; tread water for one minute; and swim 50 metres. Swim to Survive+ builds on the skills taught in Swim to Survive and is geared toward presenting real-life situations for children in Grade 7.

Students learn to complete the skills with their clothes on and how to safely help a friend. Family Swim to Survive helps families to learn the Swim to Survive skills together. Those interested can contact their local pool or visit for more information.

Study reveals new Canadian ‘tweens’ at higher risk for drowning

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