Kids quitting too early
Coaches say drop out rate is high
QUEENSLAND kids are quitting swimming lessons before they learn life saving skills.
The Royal Life Saving Society Australia has released a report revealing Queensland has the highest number of children under four learning swimming, but they are dropping out early and missing important skills.
In Queensland, 53.9 per cent of swimming enrolments are for children between the ages of zero to four, with just 10 per cent of enrolments between the ages of 8-12.
The survey found the average age of children achieving benchmark swimming skills for survival was between 8.9 years and 10.5 years.
High-profile swimming coach Laurie Lawrence said parents needed to encourage their children to swim and keep them in lessons for longer to learn basic skills.
“Kids who have lessons early, as infants, it builds their social, emotional and intellectual capacity.
“Other research for older children has shown kids who have lessons are healthier, more confident and it assists with their reading abilities as well.”
Mr Lawrence said that while kids may learn water safety from a young age, they did not develop their fine motor skills until the age of 5 to 6, emphasising the need to keep them in lessons.
“Around five-and-a-half to six is when you really start to see that a kid can learn to swim,” he said.
“And once they can actually learn to swim it opens up a whole range of water sports like nippers, water polo, surfing, skiing, and scuba diving.
“Just through swimming we would have the healthiest nation in the world.”
The report surveyed a total of 2860 teenagers aged between 13-15 years across Australia — and predominately Victoria — and found that only 0.2 per cent of the Queensland teens recorded attended one 30 minute lesson after school on a weekly basis.
Chinchilla Aquatic Centre and Fitness’ lifeguard and swimming coach Grace Bourke echoed Mr Lawrence’s comments, saying children dropping out of swimming lessons at an early age is definitely a concern.
“By the age of four, a lot of parents think that the school swimming programs will be enough but that just isn’t the case,” she said.
“Children should be introduced as early as six months of age, and to learn all the necessary skills in the water, I would recommend they attend classes until the age of 12.
“They then can make the decision whether swimming is of interest to them and whether they would like to keep going, but at least they will be competent in the pool and in waterways.”
TROUBLING REPORT: Laurie Lawrence in the water with young students.