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Swim Safer Week aims to reverse decline in swimming lesson enrolments
With Swim Safer Week commencing today, Swim Australia is launching ‘Swim It Forward’ an initiative to get more at-risk children into swimming lessons.
Swim Australia is concerned at new research which reveals parents are putting their children in danger by not prioritising swimming lessons.
Commissioned by Swim Australia, the Swim Safer Report shows that over half (55%) of Australian children do not attend swimming lessons, and that 41% of parents had no intention of enrolling their child despite summer being the peak drowning season.
Released as part of SwimSAFER Week, which runs from 16th to 22nd November, the reports also shows that a third (30%) of Australian families admitted to experiencing a water related emergency such as a near drowning experience, and one-in-three (34%) parents were not confident their child could get themselves out of trouble in a water safety emergency.
Concerned that fewer children are being taught to swim, Swim Australia Chief Executive, Brendon Ward fears the repercussions of this trend.
Urging parents to prioritise swimming as a skill every child needs, Ward advised “it is vital for parents in Australia to ensure their children have the appropriate knowledge and confidence to be safe around water and be equipped with the skills to help them in an emergency.
“SwimSAFER Week is an opportunity for parents to re-educate themselves about why learning to swim is proven to be one of the top drowning prevention measures.
“So much of our Australian culture involves the water, from the classic poolside BBQ, to a day at the beach with the family. Despite this, more than half (52%) of Aussie children do not attend swimming lessons because their parents don’t have time or cannot afford it. Yet one in two children (53%) still attend another activity or sport like football or dancing.”
“All physical activity is important, but we want parents to view swimming as a non-negotiable skill their child must learn, especially if they are under five. No other activity has the same lifesaving lessons as learning to swim does. It’s a matter of safety.”
The ‘Swim It Forward’ initiative aims to reduce the barriers for parents by generating funds to assist more families to afford swimming lessons. By donating the equivalent of one lesson (or just $20) Swim Australia will be able to help more families access lessons, while at the same time impacting the swimming industry, which took a big hit due to COVID.
Former World Champion and Australian swimmer, Jade Edmistone is supporting the campaign and is passionate about teaching children to swim and says it is critical that parents enrol their children in swimming lessons from a young age.
Edmistone adds “learning to swim should be a vital part of every child’s upbringing, especially in the earlier years as this is when they establish the lifesaving skills like learning to float, being comfortable to breathe while in the water and easy ways to get themselves out of a pool safely. It’s never too early to start. My kids started when they were 6 months old. It needs to become a non-negotiable in every home across Australia.”
Ward went on to say that with more than half (59%) of Australian parents admitting they had only had basic or deficient swimming skills themselves, Swim Australia was passionate about bridging the gap and increasing the number of children being able to access swimming lessons.
He concluded “we don’t want to see this pattern repeating. Australia is too much of a water loving nation and we want families to understand how vital learning to swim is which is why we hold SwimSAFER Week each year. It’s a chance to remind Australians about the virtues of learning to swim, from the safety benefits to the fitness and bonding experiences that comes from being in the water with your child.”
There are over 500 swim schools celebrating SwimSAFER Week across Australia with a range of events. People can find their closest swim school at www.swimsafer.org.au and are invited to visit and find out more about what their child will learn through swimming lessons.
For more information go to www.swimsafer.org.au
Images: SwimSAFER Week campaign materials (top and middle) and Brendon Ward with Jade Edmistone (below).
9th November 2020 - Kieren Perkins appointed as Swimming Australia President
30th September 2020 - CQU researcher seeks input with study into drowning prevention strategies
24th September 2020 - Learn2Swim Week sees swim schools offer free lessons for children under five
5th September 2020 - HealthySwim Australia expands expertise with new appointments
4th September 2020 - Extension announced for AUSTSWIM Swim Centre Recognition
28th May 2020 - ASCTA awards recognise swimming excellence
29th April 2020 - ASCTA advocacy highlights the value of swim coaching and teaching
24th March 2020 - ASCTA/Swim Australia release Coronavirus guidance for swim schools
26th November 2019 - Life Saving Victoria launches new SwimSafe safety campaign for public pools
27th November 2014 - 400 Australian swim schools unite to create a SwimSAFER nation
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