Aqua Skills for Armadale adults

7 July 2021

Royal Life Saving WA is excited to see so many adults across the Perth metro area taking part in our brand new Aqua Skills 55+ program. The program is designed to address the fact that almost half of those who drowned in Australia in 2019-20 were aged 45 and over, and as our population continues to age this figure is likely to increase further in the years to come.

Aqua Skills 55+ is structured as a four-week refresher suitable for people of all skill levels, so it’s great for everyone from everyday swimmers to those who only dip their toe in occasionally! The program is very practical, introducing survival skills, swimming in clothes and rescue initiatives, providing participants with the skills to deal with emergency situations, personal survival techniques and a thorough understanding of water safety knowledge to reduce the likelihood of drowning. It's a great way for those taking part to meet new people, learn new skills and have fun!

Adults floating on their backs in the poolThe course was recently held at Armadale Fitness and Aquatic Centre, with so many local people interested in taking part that we had to add extra courses to meet demand! The first course saw 13 participants take part, followed by a second with 22 participants enrolled and a third has now been added, which will run in the coming weeks.

Those who’ve been involved so far have thoroughly enjoying the experience. Participants Rose and Chris McGarraghy were inspired to take part so they can feel confident looking after their grandchildren. “We have young grandchildren who now have a pool at home, and we also take part in leisure water activities. We have always kept up with First Aid courses, but didn’t have a strong knowledge of water rescue.”

They said the course was extremely well presented by Community Trainer Cathie Calleja. “The full program was explained on the first day, so we knew what each of the four weekly sessions would focus on. Cathie kept us involved throughout the course and monitored our individual abilities and needs during the situations. We really benefitted from the explanations of better swimming techniques which made a real difference to my understanding and confidence in the water. It was also great to learn the varied ways of responding and rescuing people in difficulty.”

Participants first complete a session of resuscitation and out of water skills before then taking on three in-water sessions. Trainer Cathie Calleja says the group was clearly very keen to learn! “On day one the participants openly shared their fears and past experiences which have hampered their enjoyment or involvement with aquatic activities. They also made their own expectations clear and what they wanted to achieve out of the course personally or for their families & grandchildren. It set me a challenge of not only delivering the course but also to make it as personally enjoyable as I could for each and every one of them.”

30% of the course participants were born overseas, coming from places such as Iraq, Germany, England and China. Swimming and water safety education is often not a big focus in these countries, which often means that those migrating here from overseas are at a greater risk of drowning and don’t feel confident taking part in the aquatic activities that are such a big part of the Australian culture and lifestyle. Our hope is that through our Aqua Skills 55+ course we can help these participants to break down these barriers and confidently enjoying swimming and water activities.

Cathie says it's clear the course was thoroughly enjoyed and made a real difference to her students. “It was great to see the group network and encourage each other, overcome their fears, step out of their comfort zones and celebrate their successes together. It was so rewarding! They all commented that they now feel more aware of their surroundings, able to assess conditions and swimmers in difficulty, more confident in actioning rescues suitable to their ability and successfully providing aftercare or perform CPR if required.”

Participants Rose and Chris would thoroughly recommend the course to anyone over the age of 55. “Don’t miss this opportunity to increase your skills, hopefully you will never need it – but you will be more confident that you can make a difference to your own, or someone else’s life!” The Aqua Skills 55+ program is run across Perth and is currently FREE for individuals over 55 years.

You can find out about upcoming sessions and register at the link below.

Explore more button