AURIELLE Walters’ family visit to the pool turned into a nightmare when her three-year-old daughter had to be pulled from the water by a lifeguard.
One year on, Eleanor loves learning how to swim but Ms Walters is urging all parent to take up swimming lessons for their children, particularly as the weather warms up. Ms Walters wants no parent to feel like she did that day.
“There was no reaction. It was nothing like what you see in the movies,” Ms Walters said.
She just sank and there was complete silence.
“There was no hesitation with her, she was just straight in.”
Ms Walters had been taking Eleanor to start Learn to Swim lessons that day. They had just walked out of the change rooms and Ms Walters told Eleanor to hold on to the pram and not let go.
Eleanor had only been to the pool once before, at six months old, but jumped straight in. A lifeguard nearby jumped straight in after her.
Accidental falls into water remain the leading activity before drowning among children aged under five and accounts for 78 per cent of all drowning deaths, according to the latest Royal Life Saving Australia report released this week.
Eighteen children aged zero to four drowned in 2017/18.
Ms Walters, who grew up near beaches, said learning to swim safely had always been important to her but with a young family in Ballarat, swimming was an activity she had kept meaning to sign her children up to do.
Eleanor has been taking lessons since – only once a little upset at putting her head under water – and her younger brother is now learning to swim too.
Drownings among Australian children aged up to four have decreased 30 per cent but BALC aquatic education team leader Leanne White said Eleanor’s story reiterated how important it was for children to familiarise themselves with water safely from an early age.
“This tells us that we still have plenty of work to do to spread the water safety message,” Ms White said.
“Swimming and water safety lessons can provide under-fives with the lifesaving skills they need to be safer in and around water.”
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