Swimming on blues camp?

Hi everyone,

As a cadet Sergeant I regularly get asked questions about camps which I always try my best to answer. However, a rather new female cadet asked me on our virtual parade night the other day, that if the kit list for a blues camp has swimming kit on it, does that mean she has to go swimming (she said she can’t swim), I suggested that as it’s a blues camp in October that maybe it was for showering rather than swimming, although I do not know as I’m a male. Does anyone have any suggestions. I personally don’t really think you’d do swimming at a blues camp but that’s just my opinion, or maybe it’s just the generic kit list the wing has sent out. Any ideas?

Also apologies for any errors, I’m new to this forum.

Thanks in advance.

I’ve definitely seen swimming on blues camp itineraries in the past and went swimming more than once as a cadet.

Nobody is going to make her swim if she can’t! She would have to pass a swimming proficiency test anyway which she clearly can’t if she can’t swim.

As long as she explains it to the staff involved (maybe put it in the notes section on Cadet Portal) then I can’t imagine it being a problem.

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I’m going off the assumption it’s more than not being able to swim. If she doesn’t want to she doesn’t have to. If she’s nervous, making friends might help her to do it in the end.

If I was you, i’d reassure her that being nervous about both first camps and swimming is incredibly common and it’s actually pretty chill once you’re there (as i’m sure you know!).

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Just to add, not taking swimming kit because you can’t swim is not a good idea.
Sometimes The PT staff take those who can’t swim and give them some instruction on swimming.
Or a few times at camps I was there were activities where it was suggested for the ladies to wear swimming costume under their shorts and t-Shirts.

So it is always best to take it with you.


I can’t think of any camp within the last 20 years that had service staff run the swimming! You must have been very lucky! In my experience, it’s always been left to camp staff to run!

Swimming kit does appear on the generic kit list that is found in ACP 237 (annual Camps), so it could just be that.

That said, swimming can be a programmed activity on blues camps. On blues camps, if a pool has been booked, it tended to be for the basic swimming proficiency test. Occasionally, we would go to a leisure pool for a couple of hours of messing around. Obviously, if she can’t swim, then the swimming proficiency test is out of the question, but leisure pools may have areas for non swimmers that your cadet may want to have a crack at.

For the space a swimming costume takes up, if she has one, she may as well pack it - but make sure she lets the camp staff know she can’t swim! If she hasn’t got one, then there really is no point in going out and buying one on the off chance that the activity is suitable for non-swimmers. She shouldn’t worry - I’ve been the camp com on annual camps, and in my experience, there is usually few cadets that can’t take part in swimming events for whatever reason. I would bet she will not be the only non-swimmer.


Camps I’ve been on as a cadet/staff, swimming kit was used for fire station visits when the hose came out (I have a feeling this isn’t allowed any more?), trips to the beach (don’t think there was any swimming involved just sand castle building etc.), swimming and raft building/kayaking. Although if you can’t swim at all, I doubt the risk assessment will allow you to take part in some of these. Some also prefer to wear swimming costumes in case showers are communal but I don’t think they are any more.

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If you can’t swim no one’s going to put you in a swimming pool. Even poor swimmers shouldn’t bother.
But I’ve seen too many cadets who very, very poor swimmers get in to do a proficiency or gala and it’s obvious after 5m that even a length is beyond their capabilities and are ‘dragged out’ by lifeguards. But they do because some total idiot has persuaded (I would say bullied) them into it, for the sake of a point in a competition.
Most swimming is off-base now, so non-swimmers can go into a splash pool or just sit in the café area.

Our local pools insist anyone going into the main pool swim a length, if they can’t (given is 6ft constant depth) they cant use it. It shocks come adults asked to do it, I know I was the first few times we went.

I don’t think swimming is the leisure activity it once was, which is a massive shame given how confidence in water could be the difference between life and death.


I feel all my comments will just be a mirror of above.

As a camp commandant, I’ve taken all the cadets to the swimming, but no one was forced to take part. Some watched and enjoyed the social interaction, others went for a casual splash in the shallow end. Those who wanted to, undertook their various levels of proficiency.

The only acception we had (and was briefed weeks before that particular camp) was that cadets wanting to take part in a certain activity on that camp (coasteering) would need to complete the proficiency test before being allowed to participate.


I agree with the sentiment of the post, and most of the content, but I think you need to bear in mind that you’re speaking with a cadet NCO, who is dealing with someone who sounds nervous about attending camp, and specifically about the possible swimming element. Saying things like:

May be enough for that cadet to decide that she doesn’t want to go to camp after all, if this sort of stuff is happening. @mikey.supermarine This will not happen. Cadets who can’t swim will not be bullied into getting into the water.

Also, if you have seen it, why did you not step up and stop it from happening?


I speak from experience. I was at camp getting the names of cadets who wanted do the old RAF Swimming Test, ATC test or both.
We got to the pool and one lad obviously scared, said he didn’t want to do the ATC one because he couldn’t swim the distance, but one of the cadet SNCOs and officer from his squadron said he should give it a go, to get a point for the camp competition. He became my helper. I gave him the list to tick names as cadets completed their test. The two he mentioned encountered my irritation. The camp com heard me and gave them the same talk.
The officer’s rationale was it’s like ‘encouraging’ a cadet to run a race or do some athletic event. I was astounded, that he couldn’t see the difference and potentially endangering two lives, if you include a lifeguard who may have to get into the water to deal with a frightened, panicking individual.
It is amazing that in our more H&S aware times, you will see at least one cadet ‘rescued’ and several others hanging on lane ropes after a few metres at inter-squadron swimming galas, as sqn staff are more concerned about a point. Water is not a medium to place those not confident whilst in it. We can’t teach people to swim.


Really!! I think the majority were the opposite although it would be a 60/40 split

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Are cadets still precluded from any watersport activities unless they have the basic certificate? I know this used to be the case.

Depends on your risk assessment

Uhh no it doesn’t. They need to do some form of test but the cadet water safety test is acceptable. Not the full basic swimming but basically “can you float with a buoyancy aid on”


I would simply say that she would not be made to get in however, I would also encourage her to take lessons to learn when she can. Ultimately she will miss out on a bunch of fun things in the Corps and it’s a life skill worth gaining no matter what age.

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Swimming is a social ‘thing’ above all else, go to a pool or the beach with mates or family, not to mention personal survival. This should be a compulsory part of PE in schools up to at least the 3rd year of comprehensive.
We try and do 3 sessions a year to do basic swimming proficiencies as although there is no requirement for cadet water activities (which baffles me) in myself I feel happier if they pass and go on to do water activities. I shouldn’t do this, but as someone who can swim (did all the personal survival and bronze medallion) and we had our kids doing swimming lessons starting at 4, i feel it’s quite important.
I’ve felt for years cadets should pass the basic swimming before doing any water based activities (inc galas) as they will be less nervous about it and the instructors should feel better that if they go in, they should be able to cope.

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