Recent heat waves have encouraged everyone to head to the beach for some water fun, but after two years of disrupted lessons, leading swim school Kingswim is urging parents to enrol their children in swimming lessons to redevelop their water safety and survival skills asap.
This summer’s swimming stats:
- Sadly, there has been 69 drowning deaths reported in Australia to date this summer*.
- Royal Life Saving Australia’s 2021 National Drowning Report^ has found a 20% increase in drowning deaths compared to 2020.
- Deaths among children aged 0 – 4 years also increased by 9% with the 10-year average and 108% compared to that of the previous year.
Kingswim Area Manager Anne Brown says that disruptions to lessons have impacted the development of essential water safety and survival skills and parents should be on high alert when their children are around the water.
“For some children, it’s been almost two years since their first swimming lessons, so it’s understandable why some young children have developed a fear of the water,” she adds.
SheSociety conducted a Q&A with Kingswim Area Manager Anne Brown. Take a look at what was discussed;
What training can parents do at home while they’re waiting for swim spots to open?
As parents wait for swim spots to open up at their local centre, it’s important that parents ensure theirkids remain comfortable getting in and out of the water, or having water poured over their heads. After months of disrupted lessons, it can be natural for young children to be a bit reluctant to get back into the pool or be submerged in water. Parents can continue to practice at home in their bathtub, backyard pool or alternatively, in a public space like the beach. Positive reinforcement through encouragement when being exposed to water is a must, so that when they start back up at swimming, they’ll have the confidence they need to get back in and learn.
The social benefits of kids having swimming lessons in a post-lockdown environment
There is a common misconception that swimming is a lonely sport, but that’s not true at all, swimming can be a very social sport. Many children have been heavily impacted by lockdowns as they haven’t been able to connect with their friends or meet new people as they usually would. In a post-lockdown environment, re-enrolling children into swimming lessons will slowly reintroduce them into a friendly, supportive, and sociable environment. Undertaking swimming lessons is a great way to form new friendships and meet new people with similar interests, all while learning an extremely valuable skill that they can keep for life.
How do you safely introduce your child to the water for the first time?
If you want to introduce a young child to water for the very first time, consider a controlled environment like a bathtub or shower. Tipping water over your child’s head, or building up to submerging them under water for a few seconds at a time is a great first step to more advanced swimming techniques.
If you’d like to introduce your child to water for the first time at the beach, time your trip in line with low tide, and when the waves are likely to be still. It can be easy for children to start by dipping their toes into the water first and wading deeper until they reach their most comfortable depth. Adult supervision isalwaysa must and always make sure to swim between the flags. Celebrating a fun day out at the beach can also ease the initial nervousness of introducing children to the water.
At Kingswim, lessons are offered from 12 weeks of age, with children three years and older graduating from each level based on ability rather than their age. If parents don’t feel as comfortable introducing their children to water for the first time on their own, being in the safe hands of supportive and trained swimming teachers will assist with this important experience.
What is the impact of lockdowns on children’s swimming skills?
One of the unfortunate impacts of consistent lockdowns has been that without attending regular swimming lessons, children’s swimming skills have either diminished or been forgotten completely. This makes it extremely dangerous for children and families who do like to be in the water, especially during summertime when water activity is at an all-time high, as they can be at a potential risk of drowning. Therefore, we always encourage parents to re-enrol children into swimming lessons and swim consistently throughout the year; not only to make sure their swimming skills are up to date, but to also ensure they know exactly how to handle themselves in an emergency, should they find themselves in one.
How to keep up with your swimming practice during an outbreak
Keeping up with swimming practice during an outbreak can be hard, but not impossible! If you’re lucky enough to own your own pool or a bathtub, swimming practice can be as simple as blowing bubbles, kicking, or submerging your child’s head under water so they continue to feel comfortable and confident around water. While the weather is still warm, practising at a local beach or lake, with swimming aid equipment, can also be some fun family-friendly alternatives. The most important thing to remember during an outbreak is to make sure everyone keeps fit and healthy, so that when the pools do open again, you can enrol back into lessons with no problems at all.