Swimming is an extremely popular activity in our country of Australia; whether it be in our backyards in our own pools, or at the local leisure centres or even at one of the many beautiful beaches across Victoria, it is extremely important that anyone that is in a water environment understands how to act in a safe manner to reduce their risk of drowning.

20 seconds and a couple of centimetres of water is all it takes for a child to drown.

According to Royal Life Saving, their research in the 2021 National Drowning Report found that 294 people drowned in Australian waterways between 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021. 80% of all drowning deaths were males. Of the 294 drownings, Victoria accounted for 61 of them.

The top three age groups that accounted for the deaths were;

  1. 25-34 years – 17%
  2. 65-74 years – 13%
  3. 55-64 years – 13%

26% of drownings occurred in rivers/creeks, 22% on a beach and 15% in the ocean/harbour. The three activities that resulted in the most drowning deaths were swimming and recreating (25%), boating incidents (15%) and falls (14%).

The 294 people that drowned and died in Australian waterways in 2020/21 is a 20% increase on 2019/20 and an 8% increase on the 10-year average.

As the likes of Victoria and NSW end their lockdowns, it is likely that this number increases over the coming years with more people being out of lockdown able to participate in activities that require being in the water. This means that it is crucial more than ever that people understand water safety and learn the skills that are required to stay safe in the water when they’re swimming.

It is now widely accepted by the medical community that it is perfectly sensible as well as useful to start water awareness classes for toddlers from the age of 6 months. From that age and for the next two and a half years, until the age of 3, the very young kids can learn, at a very satisfactory level, the basic skills of water awareness, such as moving their bodies in the water, getting their face wet, controlling their breath and making bubbles.

The next age group is the one consisted of children aged from 3 to 5 years old.  During this stage, kids are taught the basic concepts of water confidence, such as learning how to safely enter and exit the swimming pool and how to keep themselves safe if they fall by accident in the water.  Additionally, the pre-school years are ideal for teaching the basic principles of swim techniques and preparing the children for the more advanced swim lessons.

Such lessons can start at the age of 5 when the school-age stage begins. It is during this stage when children can establish strong water safety awareness and perfect their swimming skills. Furthermore, it is during this period of their lives, that the talents of competitive swimming are discovered and treated accordingly.

The basic principles of water safety are a key concept that should be targeted for young children and their parents with swimming classes accessible in Victoria with the likes of the VICSWIM Summer Kidz program which has been running since 1976 and is set to be in action in 2022!

We at VICSWIM encourage people of all ages to take part in swimming lessons to ensure that they know the skills and tools to be safe in the water because drowning is a serious issue that has the chance to be prevented with education.