How we can stop kids drowning
MOTHER Karina Elcock wanted to ensure her son Axel could save himself if he ever fell into their southside home pool.
She enrolled him in swimming lessons at Andrew Baildon's Superfish Swim School in Sunnybank when he was just three months old and 15 months later he continues to build on the life saving skills.
Mrs Elcock is encouraging other parents to make sure their children can swim.
Her message coincides with a number of southside swim schools throwing offering free swimming lessons for kids under five during the national awareness campaign Learn2Swim Week which runs from October 2-9.
Swim schools can register to get involved in the community safety initiative, to reduce drowning rates, before August 17.
"We got involved with swimming lessons mainly because we have a swimming pool at our home," his mum Karina Elcock told the Southern Star.
"I would encourage all the parents to join the Learn2Swim program.
"We wanted our son to learn to save himself if ever he would fall into the pool and to learn to swim as early as possible.
"It is very important to make sure our children learn about water safety.
"Even if you do not own your own pool the chances are some of your friends would have one.
"Also with all the beaches we have here in Queensland it's very important for children to learn these life saving skills. Also swimming is a fun activity and swimming supports their development."
Paul Attard from Poolwerx Mt Gravatt and Rochedale and Gary Hubner from Poolwerx Calamvale, the company behind the week-long event, said the aim was to introduce parents to the value of learning to swim by having swim schools offer free swimming lessons to children under five.
"Children aged 0-4 years are at the highest risk for both fatal and non-fatal drownings and for every five children admitted to hospital following immersion, one will be left with potentially severe or persisting brain impairment," Mr Attard said.
"We know the ability to swim is one of the most important factors in reducing the risk of childhood drowning, so we need to introduce more kids to water familiarisation and swimming lessons as early as possible."
Mr Hubner said more than 300 swim schools across the country participated in Learn2Swim Week last year, and the hope was more than 450 support the event in 2018.
"Learn2Swim Week has been running over four years now and every year we get more wonderful swim schools join the cause," he said.
"The more swim schools that partner with us, the closer we get to our goal of zero drownings in under-fives.
"Last year 60 per cent of parents of who participated in the event kept their children in swimming lessons, which shows the message is getting through and parents are understanding how important learning to swim is at an early age.
Superfish Sunnybank's owner Karen Baildon said Learn2Swim Week was another "fantastic initiative" that encouraged families to join a vitally important program for their children.
"With drowning rates still high, as a community we can still do more for families until we have zero drownings," she said.
"Parents can have the attitude that child drowning will never affect them, we know this, tragically, is not true.
"There are misconceptions with babies learning to swim such as babies can't learn to save themselves or baby swimming is a waste of time and money - we know, the earlier you start your baby in a good learn to swim program, the earlier they become strong, independent swimmers, that could save their own life.
"Parents have a responsibility to ensure their children hold Independent Drowning Prevention Skills, that are only developed through regular, consistent learn to swim lessons."
Laurie Lawrence from Kids Alive - Do the Five is the Learn2Swim program ambassador and has once again partnered with Poolwerx to deliver the initiative.
He said it was a wonderful way for swim schools to show their local community they care about saving children's lives.
"Ideally, offering a five-lesson intensive course is recommended but even if a swim school can provide one free lesson it might just help prove to a parent how vital learning about water safety is," Mr Lawrence said.
Participating southside swim schools
- Rackley Swimming - Parkinson
- Rackley Swimming - Runcorn
- SUPERFISH Swim Schools - Sunnybank
- Griffith University Aquatic and Fitness Centre
Schools are encouraged to register their participation here
Parents can find their nearest swim school and redeem their free lessons on the Learn2Swim Week website.