Swimming For Safety


Drowning is the leading cause of death in children in Vietnam. But drowning is preventable.

Swimming For Safety provides children with knowledge and skills to be safe around water. 

Swimming For Safety

Drowning is the leading cause of death in children in Vietnam.

Over 2,000 children a year drown in Vietnam. Drowning kills more children than any single disease or infection – more than Malaria, TB, HIV/AIDS, Dengue and malnutrition – combined. But drowning is preventable.

Swimming for Safety trains school teachers as swimming teachers, who then go on to train children in survival swimming and water safety awareness. Since 2011, we have operated the programme in 6 provinces in Vietnam, training over 400 teachers and 11,000 children. 

Teaching school-aged children to swim is recommended by The World Health Organisation as an intervention to reduce drowning in countries with a high drowning burden. Our programme is delivered in line with this guidance, and in line with the Prime Ministers Decision 234 (2016) on child injury prevention in Vietnam. 

How does it work?

We work in partnership with local and national authorities to identify schools for Swimming for Safety. We work with the schools and local communities to select suitable models for swimming training (e.g. swimming pools or open water).

We then train school teachers as swimming teachers, who then go on to train the children in their schools and communities. Students typically have 18 lessons, in which they learn swimming, water safety awareness and safe rescue skills. We monitor the lessons closely and provide ongoing support.

Our numbers

Teachers Trained

Children Trained

Provinces of Vietnam

Swimming for Safety Timeline

Our Pilot! We launched Swimming for Safety in rural districts in Thua Thien Hue.

The beginning

We partnered with Thua Thien Hue Red Cross to implement this programme and were assisted by Phu Loc Education Affairs. This programme provided a swimming training course for Red Cross staff and swimming teachers. The Swimming Teacher’s Association (STA) partnered with us to train up to thirty swimming teachers, who then worked with ten secondary schools at ten separate sites in the summers of 2011 and 2012. In total, these ten sites trained 2,400 children to swim.

Expanding with Norwedgian Aid to Vietnam

Working in partnership

We collaborated with Nordic Assistance to Vietnam (NAV) to carry out a rural swimming programme in July and August. This project provided water safety, swimming and first aid skills to elementary aged school children who are vulnerable to drowning in Central Vietnam’s most frequently flooded areas. In charge of technical aspects, Hue Help assisted with course organisation, risk assessments, and monitoring and evaluation.

With the assistance of the Swimming Teachers Association (STA), four courses were held initially to train 119 school teachers. These teachers and swimming tutors then taught 1,696 school children from 31 schools in rural areas near Hue. Participants learnt not only swimming skills but also water safety, survival and safe rescue skills.

In 2014, we continued our work in Phu Loc

More Teachers, More Children

In 2014, we provided training for 33 teachers in Phu Loc, who went on to train 1,696 in their community.

Thanks to Laguna Lang Co, British Business Group Vietnam, and generous friends, family, and supporters for their support!

More districts are added to Swimming for Safety

5 new districts

In 2015, we continued our partnership with NCA / NAV from 2013, and expanding SFS in a further five districts. We trained 68 teachers and 2,394 children.

More districts are added to Swimming for Safety

5 new districts

In 2016 we partnered with NCA/NAV and the Swimming Teacher’s Association (STA) to expand our model to a further five districts. We trained 101 teachers and 1,728 children.

In 2017 we began to work directly in Hanoi.

Expanding to Hanoi

Hue Help ran a pilot programme in Long Bien district in Hanoi, funded by Hanoi Internatioanl Women’s Club.

In 2018, we supported lessons in Thua Thien Hue, Quang Binh and Hanoi


Hue Help worked with Golden West Humanitarian Foundation to train 30 teachers and hundreds of children to swim in rural districts in Quang Binh. We expanded our classroom based water safety education programme and provided swimiming teacher trainng in Hanoi and Nha Trang.

Hue & More!

Continuing to expand…

In 2019 we were deighted to work in partnership with LuxDev to train 15 teachers and 1,200 children in Thua Thien Province. In partnership with Laguna Lango Co, we delivered swimming lessons to an additional 130 children. We also delivered a swimming teacher training course for 23 teachers in Ninh Binh province in direct partnership with the national Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism.

Working with VTV7, we produced a series of shows aimed at preventing child drowning. 

In 2020, we are hoping to run Swimming for Safety in 3 provinces!

Watch this space…

To date, Hue Help has trained over 400 teachers and 11,000 children. In 2020, we hope to more children than ever before.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Swimming?

Evidence shows that giving children swimming skills and water safety skills can help reduce drowning – and Vietnam has the highest drowning rate in South East Asia.

What do children learn?

We run a ‘Survival Swimming’ programme. Children learn basic swimming skills, along with water safety awareness and safe rescue skills so they do not put themselves in danger. Typically, children in our programme receive 18 comprehensive lessons.

Do you teach in open water or swimming pools?

We work in both open water (beaches, lakes, rivers) and pool environments, depending what is best for the local context. In low resource, rural situations we have found that open water sites can be a safe, low cost and sustainable method of ensuring children need to stay safe around water.

All our open water sites are carefully risk assessed on selection and reviewed daily before classes take place, and our swimming teacher training specifically trains teachers on the safe use of open water sites where applicable. Our first priority is always the safety of the children taking part in the programme.

How are your teachers trained?

Hue Help has been provided with technical support from the UK’s Swimming Teachers Association (STA) and the International Federation of Swimming Teacher’s Associations (IFSTA). Our comprehensive swimming teacher training programme runs over 5-6 days. 

How many children drown in Vietnam?

According to the latest statics from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, over 2,000 children drown every year in Vietnam – nearly 6 per day – and the number in reality may well be higher. If a disease was killing 6 children pay day, it would be a public health emergency. Urgent action is needed to tackle this crisis.

What else do you do to prevent drowning?

In addition to our core programme of teaching swimming, we also:

Work with local and national authorities to advocate and advise on drowning prevention issues

Raise public awareness through social and conventional media.

Train and deliver Water Safety Education – we train school teachers to deliver classroom based water safety sessions.

Collaborate with other NGOs working in the sector to share best practice and work collectively with national authorities.

Got more questions? Get in touch and our team will get right back to you 🙂

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