Bayswater residents build their Aqua Skills

16 June 2021

Royal Life Saving WA recently began its new Aqua Skills 55+ program, providing opportunities for older adults to learn vital swimming, lifesaving and water safety skills. In partnership with the City of Bayswater the program has recently been held at Bayswater Waves Aquatic Centre.

Royal Life Saving WA Health Promotion, Research and Evaluation Officer Meg Abercromby says Aqua Skills 55+ was developed to address a serious drowning issue. “Almost 40% of those who drowned in Australia in 2019-20 were aged 55 and over, and, sadly, as our population continues to age this figure is likely to increase further in the years to come.”

She says the program, which is running free of charge, is designed to cater for the needs of those in the over 55 age group. “The course runs one session a week over four weeks and is suitable for people of all skill levels, so whether you're an everyday swimmer or only dip your toe in occasionally – Aqua Skills is for you! It’s a very practical program that provides essential lifesaving, CPR and rescue skills so you'll know what to do in an emergency situation.”

71-year-old Tam Nguyen is one of the 15 people who’ve taken part in Aqua Skills at Bayswater over the past month and says it’s been thoroughly enjoyable for everyone involved. “We are not only learning to swim, I know how to swim already and enjoy the water, but in the first session we learned CPR which is a skill we don’t have an opportunity to learn very often. Our group really enjoyed the CPR class because we learned something we never knew how to do before.”

Tam has lived in Australia for 40 years and has a swimming pool at home, but says not everyone is so lucky. “Many in our group don’t know how to swim and for them this is a chance to learn this skill. For those of us who can swim it’s still immensely enjoyable in the warm water of the aquatic centre. I enjoy the water for swimming and exercise, it’s really refreshing for your mind and your body and everything.”

Aqua Skills 55+ is also a great opportunity for people to meet new friends and enjoy socialising with others in their community. Tam says this has been one of the highlights of the program. “In our group we get together and enjoy the social aspect too, talking and maybe having a meal after the session, dim sim or something, especially for people over 55 it’s an opportunity to go out and exercise, make friends and it’s really quite encouraging.”

City of Bayswater Mayor Dan Bull says they’re very pleased to support this program, which is an important water safety and lifesaving initiative for the local community. "Sadly, a large percentage of drowning incidents in Australia involve people over the age of 55. As our population ages this is becoming an increasing issue. With nearly half of residents living in the City born overseas, many may not have grown up around the ocean, rivers or pools so this program is a fantastic introduction to water safety.”

Mr Bull says the City is looking to offer Aqua Skills 55+ to the local community on a regular basis, free of charge. “This type of initiative forms part of the City's Public Health & Wellbeing Plan, which aims to create a healthier Bayswater and promote healthy lifestyle choices for the community. I encourage over 55s to register their interest and get into the water to have some fun, meet new people and make friends whilst gaining some valuable skills.”

You can find out more about Aqua Skills 55+ and register your interest in taking part at the link below.

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