Kids quit­ting too early

Coaches say drop out rate is high

Chinchilla News - - NEWS - Sophie Chirg­win Joseph Barclay

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.”

PHOTO: FILE

TROU­BLING RE­PORT: Lau­rie Lawrence in the wa­ter with young stu­dents.

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