ONE of Orange swimming’s leading figures has supported a move by Royal Life Saving Australia to make learn-to-swim programs in schools compulsory, saying swimming is not only a life skill but a skill that will save your life.
Royal Life Saving Australia earlier this week made public new research revealing more than 370 young Australians aged between 15 and 24 have drowned in the past decade. It’s a startling jump of 25 per cent.
It’s also believed many children aren’t able to swim 50 metres or float for two minutes and Jets Swimming Club president Trevor Nobbs yesterday backed any move to turn those damning figures around.
“I have personally witnessed the results of accidents where people haven’t been able to swim ... it’s terribly tragic,” Mr Nobbs said.
“We fully support anything that encourages people to learn a life skill, and you never know, it could turn out to be a life-saving skill.”
At the moment, public schools benefit from the Schools Swimming Scheme, an intensive two-week program for students in years 2 to 6 designed to develop water confidence and basic skills in water safety and survival.
It’s one of the biggest learn-to-swim programs in the world.
However, the only part mandatory for students is the theory.
A Department of Education and Communities spokesperson yesterday said students learnt about aquatics and water safety as part of personal development, health and physical education classes, compulsory for students from kindergarten to year 10.
But as for any work in the water, that’s up to the resources available to individual schools.
“With 100,000 students each year enrolling in the Department of Education and Communities School Swimming Scheme learn-to-swim program, it is clear there is almost universal access to swimming lessons in public schools,” the spokesperson said.
“But it is ultimately a parent’s choice whether their child accesses this opportunity.”
Orange City Council’s swimming lesson programs have attracted bumper numbers, with over 200 kids enrolled in various classes including mums and bubs and swim confidence classes.
Council has also halved the price it costs for schools to allow children to participate in learn-to-swim classes to $2 per child at the Orange Aquatic Centre.
“Council is very much in favour of kids learning to swim,” council spokesman Allan Reeder said.