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Sport Northern Ireland has announced that the 2023 Get Wet Stay Safe Programme has achieved record engagement this year. The initiative, now in its second year, aims to raise awareness about water safety and has seen over 1,300 people participate in training sessions since the campaign began.

The campaign is designed to educate the public about the risks associated with water-based activities and to promote water safety messaging to StandUp Paddleboard users, Sit on Top Kayak users, and open water swimmers across Northern Ireland.

From May until August this year, the scheme saw weekly training sessions held in every county across the country. Get Wet Stay Safe, which is funded by SportNI, is part of a joint initiative with Swim Ireland, Swim Ulster, the RNLI, Irish Surfing, and the Outdoor Partnership, with marketing support from Outdoor Recreation NI.

Richard Archibald, Director of Sport at Sport NI, said: “It has been brilliant to see the increase in people taking part in water sports across Northern Ireland. Water sports are a great way to stay active and being outdoors has many benefits for our mental health and wellbeing, but open water also has significant risks."

Over the past two years, more than 1,000 people have participated in the Get Wet Stay Safe program, equipping them with the knowledge and confidence to enjoy their time on the water safely while being aware of the risks and what to do should a problem arise.

The program has seen a syllabus for training in StandUp Paddleboarding and sit-on-top kayaking established through engagement between the head of paddle sport at Tollymore National Outdoor Centre and the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland. All of the tutors who deliver the programme are qualified paddle sport instructors.

Richard Timms, Open Water Swimming Development Officer at Swim Ulster, commented: “We are thrilled with the success of the Get Wet Stay Safe campaign to date. This unique initiative continues to educate on water safety, arming participants with essential skills and lifesaving knowledge."

As part of the scheme, participants were asked to complete an Outcomes Based Accountability survey. Ethan Loughrey, Communication and Training Executive at Outdoor Recreation NI, said: “Participation in the initiative is at an all-time high, with 729 people engaging in training sessions to date, despite some adverse weather conditions. The results of our Outcomes Based Accountability survey show that at least 92% of the feedback from participants on all aspects of the training was very good."

At Outdoor Recreation NI, we’re aware of the many health benefits of exploring the great outdoors and would encourage people across Northern Ireland to do so safely and responsibly, Loughrey added.

Published in Water Safety