Students participate in swimming lessons at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School.
Students participate in swimming lessons at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School. Contributed

Swim stats disgrace

A LEADING Bundaberg swimming trainer says statistics that show thousands of Australian children leave primary school each year unable to swim are alarming.

Statistics from the Royal Life Saving Society show 50,000 primary school students in Australia leave school each year without being able to swim the length of a 50m pool or keep themselves afloat for two minutes.

The shocking figures have been released as the society lobbies to thrust the importance of water skills back on the agenda.

Bundaberg Swim Academy manager and Wide Bay Swimming president Michele Watson oversees 48 swimming clubs from Bundaberg to Bribie Island and west to Kingaroy.

Mrs Watson said there was no shortage of adults signing up to learn to swim lessons in Bundaberg.

"For a lot of these people, they've grown up with a fear of water because they've never had the opportunity to learn," she said.

"They've missed out on an important skill and haven't been able to enjoy a cherished Queensland pastime."

Mrs Watson said swimming should be an integral part of the physical education curriculum of all schools in Queensland because it was the only sport that had the potential to save a child's life.

"Children should be taught to learn to swim as soon as possible - the sooner the better," she said. "Living in Queensland, our lifestyles are based around water and children should have the skills to be able to enjoy our waterways, and get themselves out of trouble."

Michael Darben, executive officer of Royal Life Saving Society Queensland, said both parents and educators needed to work together to combat the trend.

"It's a worrying statistic," he said.

"If children aren't taught to swim at a young age, they are considerably more at risk of drowning and they're not able to take advantage of a simple skill most take for granted."



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