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Australian Swim Schools Association highlights consistency as key to maintaining children’s aquatic skills

Australian Swim Schools Association highlights consistency as key to maintaining children’s aquatic skills
May 24, 2023

As the temperature drops and winter approaches, the Australian Swim Schools Association (ASSA) is urging parents and caregivers to recognise the importance of consistent swimming education for children.

ASSA General Manager Emily McNeill is aware that children's swimming abilities can deteriorate rapidly during extended breaks from swimming. While parents may assume that their child will effortlessly pick up where they left off, the reality is that regression can occur faster than expected.

Children, especially those under the age of three, do not yet possess long-term memory capabilities. This means that consistent practice is necessary to retain their abilities.

The impact of extended breaks from swimming was highlighted by the spike in drowning rates that followed the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, when swimming lessons were cancelled for consecutive months. The Royal Life Saving 2021 National Drowning Report revealed a 9% increase in drowning incidents among children aged between 0-4 compared to the 10-year average.

McNeill advises “it is essential for parents to understand that the skills children acquire in the water can diminish quickly without regular practice.

"Every month a child is out of lessons, it can take several lessons to regain the fundamental skills learnt, and progress. Consistent swimming is vital for maintaining proficiency and ensuring our children stay safer around the water.”

Encouraging parents and caregivers to prioritise year-round swimming lessons to mitigate skill regression and ensure their children's safety in and around water, ASSA is launching its annual Keep Swimming SAFER Week from 29th May to 2nd June.

The campaign aims to encourage swim schools and families to prioritise consistent swimming, even during the colder months, to prevent skill regression and promote water safety.

Noting that data from the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2022 showed 49 drownings occurred during last winter, accounting for 14% of the annual total, McNeill added “in light of the concerning trend in overall drowning statistics, it is important that we remain vigilant and proactive to avoid becoming complacent.

“Initiatives like Keep Swimming SAFER Week provide us with an opportunity to prioritise year-round swimming and foster a culture of water safety. ASSA is committed to raising awareness about the necessity of consistent swimming education and providing resources to support swim schools and families.”

Pointing out that swimming skills are just one layer of protection when it comes to creating a SAFER environment for children, McNeill stated “it’s also important for caregivers to be constantly supervising children around water, ensuring fences and gates are secure, and that emergency action plans are in place.

ASSA has developed the Safer Water Warriors to help swim businesses lead the charge to ensure children keep swimming safer, all year round.

Built on ASSA’s SAFERswimming Layers of Protection message, the SAFERwater Warriors are a team of friendly mascots aimed at under five year olds.

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