Backyard pools are perhaps the most obvious places which pose a risk of drowning, but even if you do not have a pool at home, the risk of drowning around the home is still very much present. There are many areas both inside the home and around the garden which present as dangers to young children.
The Royal Lifesaving Society Australia (RLSA) have found that drowning deaths have occurred in the following places:
Often, it is young children and toddlers who are most at risk of drowning in these places and it is often when supervision is lacking and parents or carers attention is diverted. RLSA recommends that when there are known bodies of water around the home, that supervision is constant. Where possible, bodies of water should be removed - bathtubs emptied immediately, ice and liquids removed from eskies, and buckets emptied (particularly following rain).
The Royal Lifesaving Society Australia also highlights the importance of supervision in social settings, where bodies of water around the home may not always be known and where attention may be divided. On many occasions there may be confusion as to who is watching the children, with adults wrongly assuming somebody else is. To avoid confusion, RLSA advise that in social settings at least one responsible adult is designated the 'child supervisor' at all times.
For more advice and fact sheets, and to read a real life story on an esky drowning death, head to the Royal Life Society Australia's website.
Myth: My child is not progressing.
Fact: Learning (in any domain) is rarely linear. Swimming lessons involve learning skills and technique, and as with learning any skills it is very common to see progress accelerate at times, and 'slow down' or stagnate at other times. The important thing to keep in mind is that all 3 of these rates of learning are part of the normal learning curve.
In addition, quite often it may seem as though a child is not progressing, however they may be concentrating on consolidating a particular difficult part of the skill before putting it all back together again. It's often at these times parents feel that their child is 'going backwards,' when really the student is simply focusing on mastering a smaller part of the skill. It does not mean that a child has forgotten the rest of the skill, often they are able to put it all back together once they have mastered the component they are finding difficult.
You as their parent or carer might be feeling frustrated or helpless in these times of skill acquisition, and we always encourage you to seek out the Supervisor on pool deck for advice. The Supervisor will be able to explain your child's progress and reassure you of the strategies that are in place to ensure your child continues to move through the levels in our system. As a parent or carer, we encourage you to continue encouraging your child! You are your child's biggest supporter, and that support means the world to them.
Celebrate the successes, but just as importantly, support the struggles.
Myth: We've been learning to swim for years!
Fact: Swimming to begin with is not a sport, it is a learning process and like all learning it takes time. According to Swim Australia, the average child who participates in swimming a 30 minute class once a week accumulates 20 hours of lessons per year. That is less than a day spent in lessons spread over an entire year. If a child only swims in the summer period, this is reduced to 10 hours in total for the year - less than half a day. Would you expect your child to make good progress learning other skills such as the piano, or tutoring if they spend such little time practicing throughout the year? Swimming is the same.
There are of course ways to ensure that your child is receiving the most out of the year. By continuing lessons year round, including through winter, your child will acquire more practice. Another way to further progress is to increase the amount of lessons - either by doing more than one lesson per week, or enrolling in our intensive school holiday programs.
Here at Col Jones, we encourage parents and carers to think of learning to swim as a journey. It opens up the door to enjoying many sports (including the sport of swimming) and leisure activities for life.
Myth: You need to wait 30 minutes after eating before swimming.
Fact: This is one of those messages that holds some truth. Eating a full meal directly before a lesson or training session is not recommended, particularly if it is an unhealthy choice (think fast food, greasy or fried food). This is because it can be uncomfortable to swim on a full stomach, and if a swimmer had eaten excessively, may lead to vomiting.
Instead, experts recommend a small, nutritious snack before swimming such as a piece of fruit, a muesli bar or sandwich. We personally have found that those swimmers who have been sick here at Col Jones have consumed foods such as cakes. That means donuts and hot chips are a no-no! Following their swim, the Gatorade Sports Science Institute advises that swimmers ensure they eat a healthy meal rich in protein and carbohydrates to aid in recovery.
As always, water is always suggested for our squad swimmers before, during and after their session. It is sometimes easy to forget that swimming is a workout and students need to replace the fluids they have lost naturally through sweating.
Author: Josephine Moss (Swim School Coordinator)
Josephine encourages all parents and carers to seek out the advice of the Supervisors (in the red shirts) to answer any concerns and to keep the conversation going about the importance of learning to swim.