Plans are in place to teach 5,000 children across France how to swim through the programme ©Getty Images

The Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games Organising Committee has launched its Savoir Nager programme, which aims to teach 5,000 children across France how to swim in the remainder of the year.

The project has been launched in collaboration with Paris 2024 partner EDF, the French Swimming Federation (FFN) and the French National Sports Agency (ANS), and is being run in 29 communes in the country.

Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet was among those present at the summer launch of the Learn to Swim programme, and hailed its potential to provide young people with essential skills for life.

"The 'Savoir Nager' programme is a tangible testament to our ambition to leave a positive legacy after the Games: a material legacy (in the form of newly built pools in those areas where they are most needed), but also a human and social one, supporting young people to get active and to gain confidence in the water," he said.

"These are things which are crucial to know, the basic skills which must be instilled from a very, very young age.

"The programme also demonstrates, once again, the power of the Games to bring people together, acting as one to help extend the uptake of physical activity.

"My thanks go to EDF, the ANS and the FFN for working alongside us on this marvellous project."

Estanguet was joined by French swimmer Camille Lacourt, a five-time gold medallist at the World Championships, and artistic swimmer Laura Tremble.

FFN vice-president Lazreg Benelhadj, the head of EDF's Paris 2024 project Pierre Viriot, and the departmental advisor to the ANS Virginie Lamotte were also in attendance at the launch.

ANS director general Frédéric Sanaur commented: "The effort to prevent drownings is a national priority - one which the Agence Nationale du Sport is keen to address.

"The 'Savoir Nager' programme offers lessons in water safety and free swimming lessons - in particular, in mobile pools.

"It is absolutely in keeping with the aim of greater safety in the water, discovery and learning to swim from an early age."

Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet said the programme would help to instil
Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet said the programme would help to instil "basic skills which must be instilled from a very, very young age" ©Getty Images

Plans are in place for a further seven mobile pools to be installed across France, with additional time slots created at six pools in Paris and 17 in Seine-Saint-Denis.

Seine-Saint-Denis is one of the most deprived departments in France, and organisers have sought to place it at the "heart of the Games" with a view to providing a legacy.

Statistics provided by Paris 2024 show that Seine-Saint-Denis has just 38 pools for a population of more than 1.6 million, while six out of every 10 children are unable to swim when they reach year seven.

Four mobile pools have already been installed in Clichy-sous-Bois, Villetaneuse, Sevran and Bagnolet, and last year free swimming lessons were offered to children aged four to 12, disabled children up to the age of 18 and adults who had never learned to swim.

According to Paris 2024, this benefitted 1,800 children in the summer of 2021.

International Swimming Federation (FINA) President Husain Al-Musallam welcomed the extension of the programme.

"FINA is determined to continue promoting swimming as a sport and an essential life skill around the world," he said.

"This kind of promotion of swimming has also become a key legacy contribution to the success of the Olympic Games.

"The Savoir Nager initiative will help more than 5,000 young people into the water and teach them fundamental skills at the early stages of their aquatics journey.

"By providing greater access to swimming pools in Seine-Saint-Denis and in cities across France, I have no doubt that this programme will transform the lives of many young swimmers to come and will contribute to positive cultural change around swimming."

Twenty pools built for the Games are set to be made available for local residents after their conclusion.

Swimming and Para swimming events at Paris 2024 are due to be held at La Défense Arena.