Commercial Aquatics Australia provides aquatic solutions nationwide and is one of the largest and most experienced companies specialising in the design, construction, renovation, service, maintenance…read more
Majority of children end swimming lessons classes before they’re safe in water
Three out of four children quit swimming classes by age eight, long before they have learned skills that could save their lives, according to a new report that says learning to swim at an early age is not always the best option.
The new Royal Life Saving Society - Australia report shows that children are also starting lessons earlier today than in the 1980s and 1990s, with Royal Life Saving Chief Executive Justin Scarr explaining that there had been a "massive transformation" in the way swimming was taught, with many children starting lessons earlier and quitting sooner.
Scarr told Fairfax media “younger is not always better, and our concern is many children exit swimming lessons at an age where they are less likely to learn the lifesaving skills that will protect them.”
In particular, they would be more vulnerable later as teenagers when swimming and undertaling related activities such as boating and snorkelling when they're less likely to be supervised.
The report also finds that parents often pulled children out of lessons because of lack of time, competing after-school activities and cost.
Children who had regular weekly lessons were most likely to reach national safety and swimming benchmarks at age nine and 10. Yet only 25% were staying in lessons long enough to reach this standard, the analysis revealed.
The benchmarking report analysed 61,260 children from birth to age 15 - including 43,201 in primary school - who attended private swimming school lessons in NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.
It found there were more four-year-olds doing classes than any other group, with 15%. Young primary aged children five to seven accounted for 53% of all children in classes. But the numbers of children doing swimming lessons fell sharply from eight years of age to only 2% of children aged 12 (about the same number of two-year-olds).
Because children were being pulled out of lessons too soon, 83% of 12-year-old children couldn’t tread water for two minutes - the goal for children by the time they finish primary school – 40% couldn't swim 50 metres of freestyle or backstroke, and one third couldn’t swim 25 metres of survival strokes.
More affluent families accounted for 57% of all children who attend swimming classes.
The report found it took an average of 30 private lessons - at a cost ranging from $15 to $22 per lesson - over 12-to-15-months before a child could swim 50 metres.
Matthew Griffiths, Manager of the Aquatic Safety Training Academy in Sydney’s Seven Hills, said swimming lessons were "right up there in cost" with other children's activities.
Griffith advised that many families start parent and baby swimming lessons and then dropped out, and came back a few years later. Another group of parents tended to start their children later, and then drop out in early years of primary school when there was pressure on time and money.
Griffith advised "it is an activity that they do for a while, until parents feel comfortable with their level of competency.
Yet studies have shown parents overestimated their children's swimming and safety abilities.
Griffith added that swimming was one of the few public health interventions that was low cost with a high return on investment, adding "but parents' attitudes are often that it is sport, a physical pursuit, and not a life-saving intervention.”
Parents sometimes assumed that their school would provide lessons but that wasn't always the case. NSW public schools may choose to provide swimming, but many schools don't because parents are unwilling to pay extra.
As well as training swimming instructors and lifeguards and offering swimming lessons, Griffth's academy also ran discounted programs for schools.
However, he advised that it was common for schools to say, "our parents cannot afford to do this activity."
Scarr is urging parents to reassess the swimming and safety skills of children aged between 10 and 14 years, and to use winter to inmprove their water safety skills, and apply for the $100 Active Kids rebate voucher from the NSW Government.
Images: Justin Scarr (top) and lessons at the Aquatic Safety Training Academy (below).
7th March 2018 - SWIMS 4 ALL INITIATIVE LOOKS TO GET MORE AUSTRALIANS SWIMMING
17th December 2017 - COMPLACENCY SURROUNDING ASIAN DROWNING EPIDEMIC ALSO IMPACTS AUSTRALIA
7th December 2017 - ROYAL LIFE SAVING REPORT DEMONSTRATES WELLNESS BENEFITS OF AQUATIC FACILITIES
16th August 2017 - GENESIS FITNESS MELTON’S SWIM SCHOOL WINS LIFE SAVING VICTORIA AWARD
25th July 2017 - SWIM SCHOOLS INVITED TO BACK CHILD SAFETY INITIATIVE
21st April 2017 - ROYAL LIFE SAVING LAUNCHES NATIONAL AQUATIC INDUSTRY SAFETY AWARDS
16th December 2016 - WATCH AROUND WATER GETS SEASON LAUNCH
18th August 2016 - CORONER FINDS 2014 WATERMARC DROWNING DEATH WAS PREVENTABLE
17th April 2014 - PARENTS WARNED THAT CHILD WATER SAFETY IS NOT JUST A SUMMER CONCERN
23rd October 2013 - CHILDREN LEARN THE IMPORTANCE OF WATER SAFETY DURING VICTORIAN CHILDREN’S WEEK
30th September 2010 - RLSSA TRAINING ACADEMY TO PROMOTE AQUATIC SAFETY
Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?
The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.
However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.
Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.
Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.
Click here to subscribe.
The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.
Clubware’s online gym software is not your run of the mill management system. It has been carefully designed to incorporate all the elements that a fitness club would need. How did we do that?…read more
Track. Engage. Retain GreeneDesk is a suite of cloud based software solutions helping health clubs, leisure centres and swim schools to effectively track progression, improve customer engagement and…read more
BODY BIKE® International is a leading manufacturer of indoor bikes with a 20-year track record of creating the best indoor bikes. Stay connected with Body Bike Australia…read more
Anti Wave International is the original suppliers of top performance swim, aquatic sports, leisure and pool programming equipment. Founded in 1971, Anti Wave International is proud of its…read more
Pico is a global leader in Total Brand Activation. We specialise in engaging people, creating experiences and activating brands. Leveraging a track record in experience design that spans half a…read more
Life Fitness Cardio Life Fitness Strength Hammer Strength Group Cycling Rowers Certified Refurbished Freeweights Benches & Racks Flooring Life Fitness is the global leader in the fitness…read more
Myzone is the industry’s leading wearable technology solution. Myzone’s wearable products show and reward effort when you work out. It displays accurate real-time heart rate, calories, and…read more
get listed with our suppliers directory
Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!