With summer in full swing, people of all shapes and sizes are heading to their local pools and rivers.
For Deloraine’s Learn-to-Swim program, it is a chance to educate those inexperienced in water safety on its importance over the holiday period.
The free program, which has been running for 42 years, sponsored by the Deloraine Rotary Club.
Kali Bierens, who has been teaching the program for 15 years, said it was important for inland communities such as Deloraine to learn the importance of water safety.
“The Meander River’s just here, a lot of families have dams on their properties, or they might be bordered by creeks,” she said.
“Our program doesn’t just cover water safety in the pool, it’s about other environments like the creeks, the rivers and how to stay safe at the beach and just building that awareness with children.”
According to Royal Lifesaving Australia drowning statistics from 2017/18, inland waterways were the leading cause of drownings in Australia.
Children as young as five can enter the program, progressing through a series of groupings based on age and skill level.
“A lot of them go right through until they’re 16,”
“We’ve also had older children that have never had that opportunity to learn to swim.
“We even had a girl who was 18 and a 21-year-old that’s probably the oldest we’ve had.”
Eric McCormack enrolled his grandkids visiting from Melbourne into the program. He said it was a vital program for farm-raised kids, and making it free was especially great.
“The fact is that some people don’t have access to free swimming lessons and I think it’s quite unique here that Rotary fund it because it can be a real obstacle for people getting that exposure,” Ms Bierens said.
Deloraine Rotary district officer and Learn-to-Swim coordinator Michael Plunkett said children enjoyed returning to the annual event to better their swimming.
“The kids come back, they’ll come one year and then they return next year and the year after that,” he said.
Ms Bierens said at pools someone always supervised you, but the key message was to never swim alone, wherever you were.
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