Swimming lessons: should it be compulsory for kids? 

AS the mercury starts to rise this week, many are flocking to all places wet to cool down.

But going to the pool can be dangerous for people who have never taken proper swimming lessons.

284 people drowned in Australian waterways between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012, according to the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia.

Jacob Dalli, a lifeguard at the Eureka Pool, said making swimming lessons mandatory would keep people safer.

“The most important thing is the awareness, a lot of people don’t know about water safety and knowing about everything around you,” he said.

“If everyone had an opportunity to get lessons the awareness of the environment would be much higher.”

Mr Dalli said not knowing how to swim could be more of a danger than people realised.

“We get heaps of adults that can’t swim because swimming lessons haven’t been compulsory,” he said. 

“If it is a hot day and there are a lot of people in the water and there is someone who can’t swim, it puts them and everyone around them in danger.”

Jennifer Roberts from Life Saving Victoria said swimming and water safety skills could help in an emergency and were valuable for children to learn.

“Studies indicate that children can be taught basic water safety,W survival and swimming skills in the primary school years and that this is the ideal time to target children to lower their risk of drowning and building vital skills for life,” she said.

“However, some of the barriers Life Saving Victoria has observed in children having access to learning to swim include a crowded curriculum, cost and time out of class for schools to provide lessons, as well as cost, time and competing priorities for parents.”

alicia.thomas@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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