Over half of Aussie parents say their child has poor water safety skills!

A new report commissioned by Swim Australia has discovered only 23% of parents believe their child is a capable swimmer and 56% were not confident their child could get themselves out of trouble in a water safety emergency. This week is SWIMSAFER Week, an annual national event designed to help parents understand swimming is an essential skill every child needs. The results of the Swim Australia report were cause for concern, particularly as last year in Australia 25 kids aged 0-4 lost their lives to drowning. “The report revealed that 43% of kids are not enrolled in swimming lessons and 45% of parents had no plans to enrol their children in swimming lessons,” said Alan Bentley, Director of Nepean Aquatic Centre “It’s so important that parents get their children into lessons so they are confident and safe around water.”

The impact of children not learning to swim has far reached consequences and paints a grim picture for long-term water safety in Australia. The earlier you start water familiarisation the better, as the skills learned build upon each other at each stage of development. We believe every child should be taught to swim in a proper learning facility, unfortunately the research shows 16% of parents plan to teach their child to swim themselves. We support families having fun and helping children outside of lessons become more confident with their swimming skills but the right foundations need to be developed with trained professionals.

This years campaign speaks directly to children, with SWIMSAFER Week being ‘powered up’ by PJ MASKS to encourage children’s love of the water and promote the value of swimming lessons. The campaign aims to inspire young children and parents on the importance of swim safety along with heroes Catboy, Owlette and Gekko, and includes Campaign Ambassador Olympic gold medallist Giaan Rooney, whilst also promoting Swim it Forward– an initiative that aims to reduce the barriers for parents by generating funds to help families afford swimming lessons next year. “By donating one swimming lesson or just $20, people can potentially save a life by helping a child get back in the water and find their confidence” said Rooney.
Swimming lessons promote confidence in the water, learning to float, knowing how to react if you fall into water, being comfortable submerged in water and learning how to safely breathe while in the water, and well as improving fitness and encouraging safer fun in the sun with family and friends.

SWIMSAFER Week Ambassador Olympian Giaan Rooney says: “Swimming lessons are a non-negotiable and should be the priority before other sporting or physical activities. Swimming lessons are the one physical activity that could help a child save their own life or the life of another child.”

Of course swimming lessons are just one of the layers of protection of water safety, so please also remember supervision, checking fences and gates and learning CPR so you would know what to do in an emergency.

Parents can find more information at www.swimsafer.org.au, and you can share the gift of a swimming lesson for ‘Swim it Forward’ initiative by donating at www.swimitforward.org.au.