Feature Story 04-Jul-2011
I’ve been in the game a very long time. The swimming game that is. And although I have coached world class athletes that have gone on to win gold at various Olympics my best achievement is no doubt, Kids Alive Do The Five; an initiative aiming to eliminate drowning deaths in children under five.
Teaching babies, toddlers and preschoolers how to swim is one of the most important and rewarding roles in the world, and the other is undoubtedly preaching our water safety message to every resident in Australia.
Last year drowning accounted for 33 little lives lost; a tragic and timely reminder that our message – while strong, is simply not enough. It is not simply rested on the shoulders of parents to practice water safety – everyone needs to stand up and take responsibility.
While a majority of these drowning deaths occurred in the summer months, 6 percent happened in winter, proving that although the weather doesn’t support swimming, accidents continue to happen.
I am lucky enough to have living proof of the amazing benefits continual swimming lessons can have. My granddaughter and all round best mate, Evie has been swimming since she was just a couple of weeks old.
At 6 months she had learned to hold her breath and float for three seconds. By 12 months she was launching herself off the side of the pool and swimming over to me a couple of metres away, able to pull herself up onto my chest. By 18 months I could throw her into the middle of the pool she could turn and swim back to the side – unaided with no floatation devices.
Now two years old, Evie loves to play independently in deep water close to the side of the pool under strict adult supervision. She has learned a healthy respect for the water and knows the difference between shallow and deep depths.
I emphasise that swimming has made her safer in the water but not safe.
While her skills are great – they are not uncommon. Every child can do what Evie is able to, if they stick with regular lessons.
And while swimming lessons are a big part of water safety, there are four other equally important factors that need to be considered. Take a look at my water safety tips and lets all put our hands up to ‘Do the Five!’
So instead of curling up with a woollen blanket and eating comfort food for the next few months I urge you all to find your local Sunshine Coast heated pool and continue lessons – your kids will love you for it!
Laurie Does the Five with these water safety tips:
Fence the pool: ensure your fence meets legislation and there are no climbable objects up against it. There are also products on the market that exceed safety regulations.
Shut the gate: make sure your fence is closed and the latch works. A D&D Latch is the safest and most reliable option.
Teach your kids to swim: From day one you can be teaching your children to swim. Regular lessons will prevent skills being lost over winter months and will help your kids learn a healthy respect for the water.
Supervise: Remember drowning is silent – so supervision is paramount. The pool, bath, bucket of water, pond or dogs drinking bowl all pose potential threats.
Learn how to resuscitate: St John Ambulance provides resuscitation training and I can’t tell you how important it is. Put simply – like swimming lessons, it is a skill that you will have for life.