News / Sport / Community / 25th January 2024
Learn to swim program makes a splash
Royal Life Saving NSW has hosted its annual SwimVac program at Coonabarabran and Baradine pools over the past two weeks, encouraging kids in the bush to learn vital skills in and around the water.
Regional areas suffered almost double the rate of drownings compared to metropolitan areas from 2022 to 2023.
Swimming is a life-long skill and needs to be practiced regularly at all ages.
To aid children in understanding their limits and to manage risk awareness, national swimming and water safety programs are engaged to educate children.
Programs such as the Swim and Survive SwimVac Program, facilitated by Royal Live Saving (RLS) NSW, are held throughout the state.
Coonabarabran and Baradine Pools have been with the program since its beginnings and run for two weeks over the summer holidays, with the option to enrol for five or 10 days.
RLS NSW swimming and life saving manager, Renee Amidy said more kids were joining the program each year.
“RLS is empowering our rural children with the invaluable life skills of water safety and swimming through participation in the SwimVac program,” Ms Amidy said.
“Consistent exposure to swimming activities is really important for kids of all ages so they don’t lose the skills they’ve learned.
“In these lessons we include several benefits of essential survival skills for rural children about navigating waters, resilience and gaining confidence to stay afloat in adversity.”
Aligned with the National Swimming and Water Safety Framework, SwimVac encompasses water safety benchmarks.
The benchmarks vary from a beginner who needs assistance floating and moving through the water, to advanced levels for children over five.
Advanced swimmers need to be able to swim 15 metres unassisted, using various strokes, and be able to tread water unassisted.
The program teaches children of all abilities how to swim and learn personal safety skills.
SwimVac caters to children from five to 14, with parent classes held for children under three years.
Photo: Coonabarabran SwimVac instructor, Bel Mills, getting young swimmers confident and skilled in and around water.