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Paul Sadler Swimland concerned that limited access to swimming lessons increases drowning risks for children
Paul Sadler Swimland has highlighted that a rise in child drownings may be a result of children in Victoria having had little or no opportunity to build vital life-saving water skills through professional swimming lessons over the past six months.
The leading swim school operator has reported that five children, aged two and under, have lost their lives due to drowning incidents in the past two months and that, since July, the Victorian drowning toll stands at 12, nine higher more than the five-year average.
In a statement, the Victorian-based learn-to-swim business advises that “these children, along with other Victorian and Melbourne Metro children, have had little or no opportunity to build vital life-saving water skills over the past six months - and this leaves them exposed.”
The statement continues “one of the biggest risks this summer, will be amongst children who were competent and confident last summer and who may no longer be, due to regressed swimming ability.
“Additionally, parents and guardians may not watch as closely, expecting that their children’s abilities are the same. However, with no lessons for over six months, this may no longer be the case - all Victorian kids will have regressed in their swimming ability to some degree.”
Noting that, coinciding with children not being able to learn essential water safety skills, child drowning rates have increased worldwide in 2020, the statement notes “this has been evident in countries that were not closed as long as Victoria has been … whereas, participation in formal swimming lessons are associated with an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning, according to the American Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.”
With summer approaching and the demand for water-based activities increases, the statement continues “(this) is a serious concern to all those involved in the aquatic industry”.
Call for learn-to-swim facilities to be allowed to reopen
It also goes on to note that the recently formed Victorian Aquatic Industry Alliance, of which Paul Sadler Swimland is part, “is a collective of relevant learn-to-swim associations and businesses who are paving the way to encourage the government to reclassify the learn-to-swim industry, which currently gets grouped with gyms and recreation centres, to be able to reopen quickly and safely.
“Currently, there is no evidence of COVID transmission in the learn-to-swim setting, in that there is little to no evidence of children transmitting to each other. There is also no evidence that COVID can survive in chlorinated water.
“Transmission increases amongst close contact individuals, which according to DHHS (Victorian Department of Health and Human Services) classified as more than 15 minutes of face to face contact or more than these hours in an indoor setting with an infected person.
“These risks can be mitigated in the Learn to Swim industry and specifically at Paul Sadler Swimland where our lessons are 30 minutes in duration. Once in the water transmission is minimised due to the chlorinated and treated water. Spectators can be limited in numbers, spaced a relevant distance apart, issued hand sanitiser upon entry and exit as well as offered to sit outdoors or in their cars -with designated drop off and pick up zones, thus reducing an already minimal amount of time in an enclosed space. Furthermore, our team actively clean; all toys, props, high touch surfaces between 30 minute sessions to decrease risk.
“In what should be Learn2Swim Week, which the rest of the country are participating in, Victorian children and learn-to-swim businesses are unable to take part. This, along with prolonged forced closures, means that children are at an increased risk of drowning this summer.”
To help children and families prepare for a safer summer, Paul Sadler Swimland is currently providing free online content for all levels of swimmers from babies to teenagers.
However, the statement concludes “nothing beats in pool swimming lessons.
“We need to get children back in the pool for formal swimming lessons, before summer hits, to help reduce the risk of any more children drowning in 2020.
“As an industry we can minimise the risk of COVID transmission, but unless we can start teaching kids vital water survival skills, we cannot minimise the risks of drowning.”
Images courtesy of Paul Sadler Swimland.
16th September 2020 - Victoria’s aquatic industry leaders call for clarity
13th September 2020 - Royal Life Saving survey suggests that swim school enrolments fell by 30% in August
5th September 2020 - HealthySwim Australia expands expertise with new appointments
8th July 2020 - ASSA to stage virtual conference for swim schools
3rd July 2020 - Goulburn Swim School to close after 24 years in business
17th June 2020 - SwimDesk expands online software functionality for swim schools
9th June 2020 - Western Australian children return to swimming lessons
28th May 2020 - ASCTA awards recognise swimming excellence
30th April 2020 - ASSA raises concerns over future of swim schools
29th April 2020 - ASCTA advocacy highlights the value of swim coaching and teaching
24th April 2020 - Coach calls for elite swimmers to be given access to pools
20th April 2020 - Swimming Australia celebrates first year of iSwim
3rd December 2019 - VICSWIM partners with Paul Sadler Swimland for water safety education
25th August 2017 - Paul Sadler inducted as ASSA industry legend
9th May 2014 - Paul Sadler Swimland to mark 10 million swims
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