Camp - Watersports


I have been selected for a camp which includes watersports. I am not good at swimming at all and would definitely not be able to pass a Proficiency Test on the day. Is it possible for me to just not take part in that activity?

Any help would be greatly appreciated,


Absolutely. No one will force you to do something you don’t want to do! They may encourage that you give it a go. But assuming this is something like kayaking on a lake, you’ll need the proficiency to even give it a try afaik.


Worry not about passing a proficiency test. Nobody is expecting you to be of a competitive swimming standard - and not being able to swim unaided shouldn’t be a blocker for participation!

There is a Cadet Forces Water Safety Test which is also available and provides a solid alternative to those who are less confident swimmers and ensures you can participate (if you want) and is more inclusive in its approach. For starters you wear a Personal Floatation Device - so keeping your head above the water is no longer a show stopper!

Full details are in ACATI 29 - extracted below for reference…

CF Water Safety Test . The aim of the Cadet Forces Water Safety Test is to ensure that cadets do not panic and remain able to accept assistance on finding themselves in the water. The individual should wear normal boating clothing and a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) normally a 50/80N buoyancy aid. The following protocol should be followed:

a. Enter deep water by stepping off the side.

b. Swim 25m.

c. Tread water/float for 1 minute.

d. Exit water with assistance if required

If you can pass this, you will be able to take part. But it will also give you confidence in your PFD - that it works and keeps you afloat. The test is designed to reassure you that you can do all the things you would be expected to do should you take an unplanned dunking in a water based session.

Coaches, leaders and instructors are tested as part of their qualification assessments to recover participants from taking an unplanned swim, getting them back in their craft as safely, as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Should you come a croper, you can be reassured that your staff (or cadets!) will be able to support you back on to/in to your craft and continue the session - all you’ll have to do is float about until they’re with you and follow their instructions!



There’s never any “expectation” to participate in all aspects - but staff would obviously want to ensure they you get any support that would help…

On the other hand - if you simply don’t feel confident enough - and don’t want to lose face… you could say that you’ve recently had an ear infection and your GP has advised no swimming… No one need ever know otherwise…


I actually find that much easier to build into the programme.

It was always stupid to require a swimming test for an activity that requires the wear of a PFD throughout.

Entirely agree. By the way kids, you’ve got to get wet and cold before you’ve even started the activity.

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When ever we did a weeks AT camp, we always did the first morning in the local pool to run everyone through the basic swimmer thing. Made sense, and was always a bit of a laugh too.

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For a pool based activity - in the shallow end…

Try doing drill… sounds easy - but it’s not - and is VERY splashy!

Not always easy to get a pool on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning.

Indeed, as did we - but that’s not always practical.

It’s also not always necessary, and it discriminates against the cadets who can’t swim, when most of the activities we do in water don’t actually require them to swim if they fall in. Just float in their BAs.

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Yeah, it shouldn’t really be needed. non-swimmers should form part of the RA, reduce ratios etc. But our policy is pretty specific:

All personnel taking part in ACAT water-based activities must have passed the Air Cadets Basic Swimming Competency Test or CF Water Safety Test where appropriate.

At least they brought in the water safety test!

Although, I expect from the fact it’s the “cadet forces” test, one of the other forces came up with it first, as we are rarely the originators of good policy are we…?

When I was a Cadet our Squadron Annual Camp used to have swimming lessons in the programme for any non-swimmers who attended. The goal was that they would pass basic by the end of the week.

When was the last time the whole squadron went on annual camp?

That’s why we used to run our own, which aren’t the section visits was significantly more fun than most blues camps I’ve been on.