There is fear that due to COVID-19, it may have created a generation of non-swimmers who will never learn how to be safe around the water, warn experts.
The peak of swimming lessons in Australia is September just before the beginning of the summer season, however, this year enrolments at swimming schools across Australia dropped 25 per cent compared with last year, according to a research analysis done at 125 swimming facilities by Royal Life Saving Society Australia.
Due to this drop in numbers, these children are unlikely to ever reach national benchmarks that recommend every 12-year-old Australian should be able to swim 50 metres, float for two minutes and know how to respond to an emergency, Royal Life Saving’s chief executive Justin Scarr said.
“If a seven-, eight- or nine-year-old child can’t yet swim 50 metres and tread water for two minutes, then they should be in swimming and water safety lessons,” he said. “Non-swimming children become non-swimming adults, and that is a ticking time bomb.”
The National Swimming and Water Safety Framework, including the benchmarks, can be found here.
Being in a country surrounded by water, children’s swimming lessons are a critical life skill to prevent drownings and to encourage a lifelong love and understanding of the water.
Royal Life Saving is urging parents to judge their children’s swimming abilities and if they can’t reach the National Swimming and Water Safety Benchmarks for their age, they should enrol them in lessons prior to summer.
Royal Life Saving Chief Executive, Justin Scarr notes “the fall in swimming lesson enrolments is so dramatic that Royal Life Saving is concerned that COVID-19 may create a generation of non-swimmers, who will never be safe around water. Parents should be reminded that learning to swim is not only a partial vaccine against drowning, it boosts a lifelong love of swimming for fun, health and fitness.”
If you or you know someone or your child that needs to enrol into swimming lessons please fill out the form here.