Life Saving Victoria (LSV) have joined forces with Aligned Leisure, Belgravia Leisure and The Y to create 240 new Victorian swim teachers through the provision of free accredited training.
With estimates that more than 1,000 new swim teachers are required to meet growing swimming lesson demands in Victoria, LSV hopes the training will be a major boost to supply and also act as a tool to shorten waitlists, which have become common since COVIDSafe settings were eased.
On initiating the project, LSV General Manager – Training and Pool Safety, Andy Dennis advised that facilities are not only seeing pre-COVID attendance levels for swimming lessons, they’re seeing levels which exceed those seen pre-Covid.
Dennis stated “Victorians have been assured by the COVIDSafe systems and structures in place for facility hygiene and safety and are returning to the aquatic and leisure activities that they value and enjoy.
“These attendance levels have caused a subsequent resourcing challenge, including the inability to meet demand for critical learn to swim activities. Whilst the current situation isn’t ideal, we’re delighted to be able to partner with leading industry providers to give this important area a short, sharp boost.”
The unique partnership brings together LSV’s aquatic safety expertise and status as a Registered Training Organisation, with Aligned Leisure, Belgravia Leisure and The Y’s access to some of the best and safest pools in the state.
Only industry accredited venues will be used for the training as a reminder of the importance of meeting industry standards set out in the RLSSA Guidelines for Safe Pool Operations.
As representatives of the National Aquatic Industry Committee and Victorian Play it Safe by the Water Committee, each of the four organisations understands and is committed to providing safe aquatic environments to deliver swimming and water safety activities and contribute to drowning prevention.
Water safety and learning to swim has long been recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a key prevention strategy in both developed and developing countries. Research also highlights further health and wellbeing benefits in addition to the development of critical water safety skills and knowledge.
LSV’s Principal Research Associate, Dr Bernadette Matthews explained that an estimated 145,000 swimming lessons were missed weekly during 2020’s COVID-19 lockdowns.
Dr Matthews noted “because of this, drowning rates amongst children are significantly higher than the five and ten year averages.
“There is an immediate need to address this challenge and support as many swim teachers into the industry who can then deliver these lifesaving skills.”
Further research into the Victorian learn to swim sector is being undertaken by LSV. The research will investigate areas such as recruitment, engagement, retention, standards and professional development to better understand how the industry can best identify, recruit, train, develop and maintain an engaged and high-quality Victorian swim teacher cohort.
On explaining their commitment to the project, The Y’s Aquatic Product Manager, Janelle Falkingham, stated “The Y is thrilled to see so many families in our communities getting or staying involved in swimming and water safety education in 2021, however sadly, places are currently limited. This training offer will make it easy for those who have been thinking about joining the industry and becoming a Swimming Teacher. A role that is not only fulfilling and fun, but one that will create more places for kids to get involved in learning to swim and being safer around the water.
“This project provides a great opportunity for someone with a passion for working with young people to kickstart a new career,” said Aligned Leisure Group Operations Manager, Simon Bryson. “We look forward to working with participants to educate a whole generation of Victorians in essential water safety skills”.
Belgravia Leisure Aquatics Manager, Sarah Podesta added that she “commends Life Saving Victoria for this initiative and effort to address the current swim teacher shortage the industry is experiencing.”