Our kids can't swim: parents urged to take vital skill seriously

A SIGNIFICANT number of young children in Orange cannot swim, despite Orange having a state-of-the art aquatic facility, prompting calls for parents to become more involved in developing the skills that could save their child’s life if they fall into water.

Catherine McAuley Catholic Primary School principal Michael Croke expressed concerns to parents via a school newsletter estimating a quarter of the senior primary children could not swim a lap of the pool.

He said the solution was not straight forward, with many parents finding pool entry costs prohibitive. 

“At our school, by the time we get a bus and pay the entry to the pool, it is a big cost, which some parents can’t afford,” Mr Croke said.

Kinross Wolaroi Preparatory School principal Rod McLean said the school introduced a new initiative in November last year to ensure all primary school children were introduced to the water with basic skills.

He said parents were asked to reinforce and expand on their child’s swimming skills during the school holidays.

“It takes a big commitment from parents,” he said.

Mr McLean said parents responded positively and with a pool at the school children from Kindergarten to Year 6 remained engaged in water-based activities to improve their water confidence.

“We noticed a marked improvement in the number of children who were able to swim 25 and 50 metres compared to 10 years ago when most of the younger children could only manage 20 metres,” he said.

OUR SAY: TURN ATTENTION TO SWIMMING SKILLS

In the public education system in Orange 16 primary schools were offered the Department of Education and Communities (DEC) school swimming and water safety program last year, with 692 children taking swimming lessons, according to a department spokesman.

“Public primary schools that elect to offer the school swimming and water safety program  provide the 10-day intensive program at times that suit their school calendar and the availability of appropriately qualified instructors,” he said.

The spokesman said teachers may have swimming qualifications and some have coaching accreditation, or have under taken further professional development or qualifications.

“DEC understands that some universities have AUSTSWIM as an elective but it is by no means mandatory or part of the degree,” he said.

The spokesman said the public school swimming program was designed to develop water confidence and provide students with basic skills in water safety and survival.

The Royal Life Saving Society of Australia released its National Drowning Report this week, showing drowning deaths last year, at 291, were the highest since 2009/10, with a large numbers of drowning deaths taking place in inland waterways.

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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