Nepean Aquatic Centre and Eva Borys Swim School are both registered Swim Australia Swim Schools. We participate annually in Swim Australia’s SwimSAFER week – 16-22 November this year. We incorporate safety elements in our lesson plans 52 weeks per year, and as such, do not modify our lessons for swim safety weeks – we are already all about safety!
    Fun, safe, good for your health – learning to swim has it all!
    November 16-22 2020 marks SwimSAFER Week 2020. It is when we take a moment to acknowledge the benefits of learning to swim and why it is a lifesaving skill everyone should have!
    Swim Australia recently conducted research and was shocked to discover only 40% of adults rated themselves as proficient swimmers. 18% said their skills were poor and 6% claimed they didn’t know how to swim at all! The main reason for this lack of skill was because close to half of the people surveyed did not receive swimming lessons when they were young. 28% taught themselves to swim and another 30% were instructed by their parents. This study proves why learning to swim needs to start early.
    Start kids early!
    Knowing how to swim is a key factor in reducing the risk of childhood drowning. We recommend children begin the learn to swim process from as early as three months. 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 but for some families this is not always possible, which is why we have created a new way to help families with our Swim It Forward initiative.
    Swim It Forward!
    As part of SwimSAFER Week this year we are launching the Swim It Forward campaign. Swim Australia’s research shows 55% of Australian children are not currently in lessons, with a major reason being affordability. This year 12 little ones under five drowned. Learning to swim is a major preventative measure parents can take. Our aim is to help more children receive this vital education. For just $20 (tax deductible) or the cost of one swimming lesson, you will be helping those most at risk of drowning. The more children in lessons, the lower the risk of drowning.
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    Swim safety is a major focus of Swim Australia. Swim Australia’s consistent message is that no measure can ever guarantee that children are safe in, on and around water.  It is only human for adults to sometimes lapse in their supervision of children in the home or while out and about.
    Children can and do find ways over fences, and even those who have had swimming lessons can still drown. For this reason the SwimSAFER message promotes and recommends the application of various layers to protect children from drowning – if one layer ‘fails’ then there is another behind it that may save their life. Research released by Royal Life Saving Australia in 2018 showed that 965 children aged 0-4 years drowned in Australia over the last 25 years. Accidental falls into water were recorded as the leading activity resulting in drowning.
    The layers of protection are:

  • Always supervise – constant active adult supervision
  • Use effective barriers – pool fences, locked doors, etc
  • Have children in swimming lessons – from an early age
  • Emergency planning – learn CPR, know the emergency numbers, always have a phone nearby.
  • Supervision:
    Supervision is key – we can never assume someone else is watching. Drowning is often silent.

  • Children cannot supervise other children – always have an adult present.
  • Under 5’s should always be within arms reach.
  • Reading a book or surfing the internet is not active supervision. .
  • Barriers:
    As proper supervision relies on people, it is never 100% reliable. This is why barriers need to be in place to lessen the chances of children getting to the water hazard. Key points to maximise barrier protection:

  • The pool must be fully isolated from the house by a four-sides complying fence.
  • Self-closing and self-latching gates are used.
  • The fence and gate are checked regularly to ensure they are in good working order.
  • Learn To Swim:
    Being able to swim well is one of the greatest gifts that can be bestowed upon a child – especially in Australia. Equally, a high level of swimming and water safety skills are necessary for full, enjoyable participation – as part of a safer framework. For young children, the basic swimming and water safety skills include:

  • Water familiarization, where small children explore and become comfortable in water environments, developing a respect for the water.
  • Gaining confidence through various water activities which include and lead into safe entries and exits, breath control, submersions, floating, propulsion with arms and legs, turning and backfloating.
  • Developing the ‘strokes’ so that your child can efficiently cover much greater distances.
  • Experience in differing aquatic environments, ie swimming in cold water, turbulent water, with clothing on, swimming without goggles, swimming without floaties, etc.
  • The whole ‘learn to swim’ experience should be positive; free from fear of force, with a focus of skill acquisition and safety around aquatic environments.
  • Combined with learning the physical skills, the child is developing parallel water safety knowledge.
  • Emergency Planning:
    In immersion incidents, every second counts. Having an Emergency Action Plan in place can reduce panic and save vital time. Consider the following:

  • If a child is missing, check the pool and other water hazards first. Seconds count!
  • Have a phone poolside for emergency use only.
  • If you haven’t already done so, revise, refresh or enroll yourself in a Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) course so you are prepared in case of an emergency. CPR accreditation is current for a year.
  • All the layers of protection need to be employed at the one time to ensure optimal water safety.

    Did you know that in March 2009, the American Medical Association’s Archives of Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine reported a study by the USA’s National Institute from Health that concluded:
    “Participating in formal swimming lessons was associated with an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning in children between the ages of 1 to 4”.

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