• "40 to 50% of children do not know how to swim at the end of CM2", according to a survey conducted by the town hall of Marseille.

    However, in a study conducted by the Ministry of Sports in 2019, 88% of CM2 children say "know very well or fairly well".

  • Associations are campaigning to make the city the first European capital of the sea, on the model of the capital of culture program, in 2024, the year in which Marseille will host the Olympic sailing events.

The only French seaside metropolis, Marseille and its 57 kilometers of coastline is one of the cities with the lowest rate of children who can swim when they enter sixth grade. "40 to 50% of children do not know how to swim at the end of CM2," says Sébastien Jibrayel, assistant to Benoît Payan in charge of sports, according to a survey conducted by the municipality. An average among the 77,000 children of the city enrolled in primary school which obviously hides the differences between the districts, the poorest concentrating the most children who cannot swim. By comparison, in a study conducted by the Ministry of Sports and published in 2019, 88% of CM2 children questioned declared "knowing very well or fairly well".

Marseille's delay can be explained by an infrastructure deficit.

The city has 14 municipal swimming pools, providing an average swimming area of ​​4 m2 per 1,000 inhabitants.

"A city like Montpellier offers 18 m2 for 1,000 inhabitants, and Paris nearly 40", details Anne Vial, president of the Paca swimming league and sports assistant of the town hall of 4-5.

As a result, Marseille schoolchildren benefit from only one swimming cycle, during their CE2, instead of the three provided for by the national education system.

" There is a problem.

We are clearly dealing with a public health issue, ”continues Anne Vial.

Marseille, the first European capital of the sea?

And for good reason, "drowning is the leading cause of death by domestic accident among those under 25", recalls Marie-Dominique Champloy, president of Un pas vers la mer. Based on this observation, the association has implemented quickly a summer operation where a hundred children will have swimming lessons at the Cercle des nageurs. “We communicated with the Maisons pour tous, and received more than 150 requests in two days, it went very, very quickly,” rewinds Laurent Chaukroun, president of the Synergie Family association, a partner in this operation. The project, supported by CMA-CGM and Engie, was indeed set up in three short weeks.

Beyond the ambition to reduce this learning to swim deficit, these associations supported by these private foundations nourish a more profound one: that of making Marseille the first European capital of the sea. "The city will host the events of sails from the 2024 Olympic Games, and nearly half of Marseille's children cannot enjoy the sea, ”Marie-Dominique Champloy understands.

The idea is to make this year of the Olympics the first in which Europe has a capital of the sea, on the model of the capital of culture program.

"Rodolphe Saadé, the CEO of the CMA-CGM, wrote to Emmanuel Macron to work on this when France takes over the presidency of the European Union in early 2022", she assures us.

Pools at sea, the next summer?

Such an eventuality, which could drop new money into the city's coffers, nevertheless remains very hypothetical for the time being. And the municipality did not wait for this initiative to embark on the fight for learning to swim. "A priority" for Sébastien Jibrayel, who "supports [t] this initiative of Marseille capital of the sea", and still wishes to underline the efforts of his majority. “The task is colossal,” admits the athletic assistant, and “we cannot spend our time criticizing what our predecessors weren't doing. We want to reopen the north swimming pool as quickly as possible and we have made eight municipal swimming pools available all summer for the I am learning to swim system, ”he underlines. So these are 1,500 to 1.700 young people from Marseille who will be able to take their first breaststroke during these holidays.

Our Marseille dossier

New swimming pools should also be built, but land is scarce and costs are high.

It takes 3 to 4 million euros for a swimming pool against 1 million euros for a synthetic lawn.

In this perspective, the deployment of swimming pools at sea, at least in summer, would increase the surface area dedicated to learning to swim.

But that could not be done for this year.


"We are wary of the Atlantic, rarely the Mediterranean," laments a rescuer


Bagnolet: Free swimming lessons to learn to "conquer your fear"

  • Mediterranean

  • Child

  • Sea

  • Pool