Royal Navy: “Outrage” as recruits no longer need to be swimmers

There has been “outrage” within the Royal Navy after it was declared that people looking to join will no longer need to prove they can swim, according to reports.
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Sailors in Guildhall. Picture: Malcolm Wells 072572-79Sailors in Guildhall. Picture: Malcolm Wells 072572-79
Sailors in Guildhall. Picture: Malcolm Wells 072572-79

It means non-swimmers or weak swimmers no longer need to take lessons in their own time before joining. The navy said all recruits would still need to pass a swim test during training, though.

A navy source told Sky News there was concern about the change to entry requirements, which meant there would no longer be a 30-minute swim test prior to being recruited. "In a sign of true desperation to increase recruitment numbers, being able to swim will no longer be an entry requirement to join the Royal Navy," they said.

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The source said applicants in future will be able to "self-declare" they can swim but if it turns out they are not able to pass the Royal Navy Swim Test they will remain in Phase 1 basic training while they receive swimming lessons.

The source told Sky: "I absolutely get that there is a growing issue around young people being able to swim and therefore, maintaining the swim test could be seen as reducing the 'pool of eligible candidates', but at what point do we say enough is enough?"

They went on to say there had been “unadulterated utter outrage” over the move with a “race to the bottom”.

A Royal Navy spokesperson said: "All Royal Navy and Royal Marine candidates are required to successfully pass the swim test to be able to pass out of Phase 1 training and the level of swimming ability required has not changed.

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"Recruitment and retention are absolute priorities, which is why we are introducing a range of measures to speed up recruitment. These changes are to reduce the delay for candidates that are eligible to join, while retaining the same level of swimming ability."

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