In 2020, it’s estimated 145,000 children missed swimming lessons each week due to COVID-19 lockdowns, amassing to a staggering 5 million lost lessons.
As Victorians flock back to pools for lessons now restrictions have eased, an estimated 600-plus swim teachers are required to meet growing swimming lesson demands.
To boost the supply of new instructors, Life Saving Victoria (LSV) has joined forces with YMCA Victoria, Belgravia Leisure and Aligned Leisure to provide free swim teacher training courses for potential candidates.
The collaboration will see LSV train 240 new swimming instructors at the YMCA, Belgravia Leisure and Aligned Leisure’s facilities, which are among the best and safest pools in Victoria.
On initiating the project, LSV General Manager Public Training and Pool Safety Andy Dennis said the unique partnership will see LSV use its status as a Registered Training Organisation to teach vital aquatic safety skills.
“Post lockdown, the Victorian aquatic industry is not only meeting pre-COVID attendance for swimming lessons, but exceeding them,” Mr Dennis said.
“These attendance levels have caused a subsequent resourcing challenge, including the inability to meet demand for critical learn to swim activities.
“While the current situation isn’t ideal, we’re delighted to be able to partner with leading industry providers to give this important area a critical boost.”
Following the interruption of swimming lessons in 2020, drowning rates are significantly higher than the five- and ten-year averages, particularly among children.
Between July 1 2020 and April 6 2021, 52 people tragically lost their lives to drowning in Victoria.
Of these, eight (16 per cent) were children aged between zero and four years and five (10 per cent) were between five and 14 years old.
By catching up Victorians of all ages on missed swimming lessons, Mr Dennis hopes this number will lower for the remainder of 2021 and beyond.
“The total child drowning deaths of 13 is nine more than the five-year annual average in Victoria and the highest number of drowning deaths in this age group since 1999-2000,” Mr Dennis said.
“This is absolutely tragic for the 13 Victorian families mourning the loss of a young life on our waterways.
“All it takes for a child to drown is 20 seconds. Education such as swimming lessons is absolutely essential for all Victorians and active supervision of children around water by parents at all times is key.”
The free swim teacher training courses will begin in April. To become involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org