When I was a kid, I got to experience British and American Scouting.
My British scout master was a large WWII vet complete with a swagger stick.
Swimming badge was intense. They had the kids wear short pants, all time, no matter the temp. Except to earn the swimming badge.
For that one time, one got to wear long pants.
They would load the lads up on a navy vessel and head out to where there was a bit of chop to the water.
They (we) got pitched over the side. The idea was to take the pants off, and tie knots in the legs. If done right, one could flip the pants over your head to trap air in the pants. They could then be used as a flotation device.
Using the flotation device, you were to swim 2 miles.
About a third qualified the first time.
That was back in the early sixties. Never experienced anything like with the American scouts. I attributed it to a long rich tradition of the British ruling the waves.
That which matters most