Background[edit | edit source]

The Canadian Red Cross Society (CRC) began offering swimming and water safety programming in Canada in 1946. Since then, the program has experienced significant growth and development, which have culminated in the current CRC Swim Program (CRC, 2007). Presently, the CRC trains and certifies over 20,000 Water Safety Instructors in Canada annually, who in turn, deliver swimming and water safety programming to over one million Canadians each year (CRC, 2009).

As a registered charity, the CRC operates as an auxiliary to governments in the humanitarian field. It offers a variety of programs (such as the Swim Program) consistently, as well as support and humanitarian aid in times of need (CRC, 2010a).

The CRC is part of the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and all of its actions and activities are therefore governed by the Movement’s seven fundamental principles:

  • humanity,
  • impartiality,
  • neutrality,
  • independence,
  • voluntary service,
  • unity, and
  • universality.

Though well known for its role in promoting water safety, the CRC also plays an important role in long-term athletic development, which is the cornerstone of the Canadian sport system (CRC, 2011), through providing training in basic swimming skills and fitness. Furthermore, the CRC’s Swim Program plays an important role in the pathways to development in many sports (e.g., competitive swimming, synchronized swimming, water polo, lifesaving sport). Given the risk inherent in participation in swimming, water safety must also be an important aspect of the program; essentially, this is similar to other important sport/safety skills such as a hockey player learning how to take a hit or a gymnast learning how to fall safely. Water safety is thus a necessary part of the holistic development for participants in this sport program.

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