Children to learn water safety
WITH the spike in drowning over the last few weeks, teaching children about water safety in open water environment is becoming more crucial.
The VICSWIM program is helping children increase their confidence and safety skills at the beach.
With the aim to keep children safe in the ocean, the program teaches children how to be calm in a dangerous situation, how to read the current, understand that open water in unpredictable.
The program runs for a week across three weeks with 30-minute lessons across five days at a cost of $30 per child at Anderson Inlet in Inverloch.
In that time, children who had little confidence at the beach at the beginning of the program have developed the ability to swim out to buoys and sand bars with direction from their instructors.
“We live in a coastal community, and it is important that children develop these skills to ensure they are safe at the beach,” VICSWIM instructor Phoebe Finlay said.
“As teenagers, they may want to hang out at the beach with their friends, and this program aims to help them understand the water and the danger it possesses. There have been too many drownings in the area, so these skills need to be taught.” The Inlet has a strong current, giving VICSWIM instructors the opportunity to talk to children about the conditions and how currents are similar to rips.
“We teach them not to panic, and not to swim against the current and tire themselves out. We have a lot of fun as well, and the children love it.
“There’s been a lot of good development this year. Some of the children were quite timid to start off with because they are used to the predictability of swimming in pools. We had kids doing things on Friday that they never would’ve attempted on Monday, like swimming out into deep water.”
The program also had children running through scenarios, like what would happen if they ran into trouble on a boat. In preparedness, the children practice putting on life jackets – which they wear for the entirety of the program – and how to stay warm when entering the cold ocean.
Phoebe said parents had been surprised and happy about the benefits of VICSWIM.
Parents were offered the opportunity to join in the program, especially to support the younger swimmers.
“It’s all about survival and developing confidence and knowledge. These skills will mean they can just go out and have fun at the beach but know how to deal with any incidents that may happen and eventually share their knowledge with their parents and other kids about the dangers that can be found in open water,” she said.
There are still two weeks of classes with opening starting on January 14 and January 21 with open water classes at Anderson Inlet in Inverloch and the Cowes Yacht Club along with pool locations at Korumburra, Mirboo North and Cowes Primary School.
To enrol your children, visit www.vicswim.com.au.
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