Swimming skills could save a life

By Megan Cunneen

AFTER her five-year-old daughter drowned in a backyard dam three years ago, Carol Wrage is pleading with parents not to let another young life slip beneath the surface.

On January 18, just six weeks after her fifth birthday, Rebecka (Becky) Wrage drowned in the dam on her family property at Gin Gin.

"The paddock was fully-fenced, but Becky and Kurt (her brother) climbed over it and went over to the dam, chasing frogs," her mother Carol Wrage said.

"She fell over a stick and went into the deep end."

Mrs Wrage and her husband Pat ran down to the dam as Kurt, who was three at the time, went in looking for his sister.

The eldest child Cara immediately dialled triple zero, but nothing could save the young life.

"The ambulance was out quickly, but that didn't help, it was too late," Mrs Wrage said.

"She had been under for too long."

After losing their little girl, Mr and Mrs Wrage are warning other families to make sure their children can swim to prevent a similar tragedy.

"They had never gone near the dam before, that was the first time - they were just kids being kids," she said.

"They didn't want to go for a swim, but if they fall in kids need to know how to come up to the side."

After Becky died, Apex and the Lions Club helped to establish free swimming lessons for children in Kolan Shire.

"The most important thing is that every child needs to learn how to swim as early as possible, especially in rural areas as there is so much water around - dams, creeks, water troughs - you don't need much to drown in," Mrs Wrage said.

It's always harder during the school holidays as kids are home and they want to explore and get into things they wouldn't normally do.

"You can't watch your kids 24 hours a day, it's impossible."

Becky's family hopes her death will serve as a reminder to parents of children who cannot swim.

"Not a day goes by when we don't think of her," Mr Wrage said.

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