Amazing survival story as parents urged to enrol children in Swim and Survive lessons

16 August 2020

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia has published the new National Swimming and Water Safety Framework, which sets out new benchmarks for children participating in swimming and water safety lessons. With reports showing that some parents may be reluctant to re-enrol their children in swimming lessons due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Royal Life Saving is keen to highlight why swimming and water safety skills are essential for fun, fitness and safety, especially as summer approaches.

This Framework has been re-developed in partnership with experts from industry organisations, including AUSTSWIM, Swimming Australia and the Australian Swim Coaches and Teachers Association (ASCTA), and is an important resource for parents to understand the lifelong benefits that learning to swim provides.

The Framework provides three benchmarks for children at the age of 6, 12 and 17 years. Royal Life Saving believes that:

  • Every Australian at the age of 6 years should be able to swim continuously for at least 5 metres, submerge and move through an obstacle, and identify people and actions to help in an aquatic emergency
  • Every Australian at the age of 12 years should be able to at least tread water for 2 minutes and swim continuously for 50 metres, rescue a person using a non-swimming rescue technique with non-rigid aids, and perform a survival sequence wearing clothing
  • 50% of all Australians at the age of 17 years should be able to tread water for 5 minutes, swim continuously for 400 metres, rescue an unconscious person in deep water, and perform a survival sequence wearing heavy clothing


Royal Life Saving data shows that 75% of children stop swimming lessons before the age of 9 years and 40% of 12-year-olds are not achieving the above benchmarks. Royal Life Saving WA Senior Manager Swimming and Water Safety Education, Trent Hotchkin, says “Swimming is an intrinsic part of the Australian way of life, which means that lessons are not only essential - they are lifesaving. The National Swimming and Water Safety Framework reinforces the importance of basic swimming strokes, as well as water safety skills such as survival strokes, treading water and rescue techniques to keep children safe in water. Royal Life Saving is asking parents: can your 10-year-old swim 50 metres freestyle and tread water for 2 minutes? If not, we urge you to speak with your local swim school now.”Kian and Micah Hayter hugging each other

The 140 swim schools that are endorsed by Royal Life Saving across WA follow this framework as they teach children under the Swim and Survive curriculum, which focusses not only on children learning swimming strokes, but when and where to do so safely. The program also teaches children important survival skills at each level to enable them to keep themselves and others safe in the water.

One swim school that is part of the Royal Life Saving Endorsed Swim School network is Swan Active Beechboro. Troy and Newsha Hayter enrolled their children at Swan Active after their sons, 6-year-old Kian and 4-year-old Micah were involved in a non-fatal drowning incident in January 2019. The family was picnicking at the busy Big Brook Dam in our south-west when Kian and Micah got themselves into deeper water. Kian, despite having only basic swimming skills, went to rescue his brother, almost drowning himself. Micah had to be revived by their father on shore.

Following this incident, the family enrolled all three of their sons at Swan Active for Swim and Survive lessons. Over the past year the boys have developed their water confidence, swimming, and survival skills, and thoroughly enjoy their lessons with their instructors.

City of Swan Mayor Kevin Bailey says “Swimming and water sports are an integral part of the Australian social fabric, particularly in WA; meaning swimming lessons help save lives. Our Swan Active Swim School programs introduce water safety and skill development to students of all ages, from six-month-old babies to adults.”

“By partnering with Royal Life Saving Society WA, Swan Active is able to offer local families and children a fun and engaging program that includes learning the essential water safety and survival skills. We also facilitate water safety information sessions for childcare centres and child health clinics. Swan Active is passionate about providing swimming programs that engage students over the longer term while teaching water skills that will help keep them safe.”

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia’s research, education and advocacy work in drowning prevention and water safety is supported by the Australian Government. Parents can find their local Royal Life Saving WA Endorsed Swim School by visiting the link below.

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