As we move into the warmer spring weather we believe that it is time for every parent and educator to remind children of the dangers of swimming.
In Australia, swimming is a national pastime. The freestyle stroke is often referred to as the ‘Australian crawl’. What other country has a swimming style named after it?!
However, it is vital that parents and educators instil a healthy respect for water. Swimming can bring much joy and is a brilliant way to stay fit, children should not fear water, but respect that water activities can be dangerous.
Sadly, accidental childhood drowning claims more young Australian lives, than any other trauma; in 2013/2014, 20 children under the age of five, drowned in Australian waterways.
However, Swim Australia - the learn-to-swim experts and national swim school authority – says, although accidents can and do happen, through early introduction to the water, year round lessons and on-going swim education, drowning can be averted.
Such education includes ensuring the whole family understands and constantly applies the FOUR “Layers of Protection” together, whenever in or around water.
- Be Aware: Don’t let the kids out of your sight. All non-swimmers and children under five, must be supervised by an active adult, within arm’s reach.
- Be Secure: Keep fences & gates locked up tight. Barriers must be maintained & meet regulations. Climbing aids must be removed from around barriers.
- Be Confident: Learn to swim & how to get to safety. Swimming lessons are advised, year round. However, water confidence should never be substituted for proper supervision & barriers.
- Be Prepared: Always have a plan in case of emergency. Having an emergency action plan in case the unthinkable happens, is vital. Check the pool, other waterways and aquatic hazards first - including neighbouring properties - if a child is missing, then inspect bedrooms, cupboards and other hiding places afterwards etc.
Applying these four simple layers together and at all times, can help make you, your kids and Australian families, SAFER, when in and around water.
Swim Australia, encourages parents to enrol children in swimming lessons - free from force and fear, promoting a nurturing, fun and enriching environment - from as young as four months. This gives the child enough time to allow a medical history to develop, the infant’s immune system to strengthen, and bonding to occur with the primary caretaker.
To avoid negative associations, children should never be forced into lessons, especially if they are genuinely afraid of the water. However, learning respect for the water, and having swimming skills, is vital. Informal aquatic play, can be a great way to kick start the process, through constant-adult-supervised bath time with ‘ducky’, splashing in a backyard sprinkler, playing with toys in a paddle pool, even gradual one-on-one play sessions in the backyard pool or swim school environment.
But, teaching your kids to swim, isn’t just a smart decision ... world first research has proven, ongoing pool practice from a young age, can make your kids smarter, than other non-swimming children.
The four-year Griffith University and Swim Australia study, revealed swimming kids were anywhere from six to 15 months ahead of the normal population, when it came to cognitive skills, problem solving in mathematics, counting, language and following instructions. Swim Australia are the learn-to-swim experts, and swim school authority with around 600 registered centres located nationwide. To find your closest Swim Australia Registered Swim School, gain some tips on how to choose the best centre for you, or for other great education material, jump on to www.swimaustralia.org.au.
Learning to swim with Swim Australia – creating a Safer, Smarter, Stronger nation.
We would like to thank Swim Australia for providing this wonderful advice; please head over to the Swim Australia website and their social media to support the brilliant work of the team at Swim Australia.