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Before School Survival Swimming Trials

In Victoria, drowning is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in children aged 0-14 years. Research conducted by Life Saving Victoria with teachers of Year 6 primary school children revealed that school teachers estimated 60% of Victorian children leave primary school unable to continuously swim 50 metres. The study also identified barriers for schools participating in swimming and water safety programs, which included the cost of swim programs; crowded curriculum; a high demand on classroom time to attend; transport costs associated with students commuting between school and aquatic facilities; a lack of qualified swim teachers in regional areas; and cultural barriers for culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Life Saving Victoria has subsequently investigated the feasibility of establishing a Before School Swimming and Water Safety Program that would provide swimming and water safety education before school and/or through outside school hours care programs. The Before School Swimming and Water Safety Program focuses on the development of water safety skills and knowledge, especially ‘survival swimming’ which includes preparing a child for unexpected entry into the water. This is in contrast to the content and focus of existing ‘learn to swim’ programs which focus on correct stroke techniques over a particular distance.

A pilot of the Before School Swimming and Water Safety Program was conducted in regional Victoria where the drowning rate per head of population is almost twice that of people living in major cities. The report outlines the results of the evaluation of the pilot Program.