Swimming lessons are back after COVID-19 shutdown

10 June 2020

Swim Instructor Shannon with young swimmer Jaxx in the waterRoyal Life Saving WA is excited that swimming lessons are able to restart as part of the State Government’s stage three easing of COVID-19 restrictions, and is urging parents and carers to re-enrol their children as aquatic centres and swim schools re-open from this week.

It’s estimated that the three-month shutdown of WA’s aquatic industry has cost $76 million dollars in lost revenue and left many of the 4,150 strong workforce out of employment. 53% of staff in the industry are employed on a casual basis, many of these young adults aged 18-24 working as pool lifeguards, pool operators and swim instructors.

The industry is now busy reactivating these staff with aquatic centres and swim schools opening over the coming weeks to welcome back the regular patrons who usually make more than 11 million visits to aquatic centres across WA annually.

Royal Life Saving is particularly concerned that the recent shutdown has meant 50,000 children have missed out on taking part in swimming lessons across this period. Royal Life Saving WA Senior Manager Swimming and Water Safety Education, Trent Hotchkin, says, now that the WA Government has deemed it safe to do so, getting children back in the pool as soon as possible is extremely important. “Learning to Swim and Survive is a vital life skill that all Western Australian children need to safely participate on, in and around water. Building swimming and water safety skills in young children is vital work and the single most important investment we can make as a community to prevent drowning.”A swim instructor with a little boy by the edge of the pool

There is a common misconception in the community that drowning deaths only occur in Summer. In fact, across Australia around one third of drowning deaths happen in Autumn and Winter. Royal Life Saving is particularly concerned about these drowning risks over the upcoming school holidays, as children have not been able to take part in their regular swimming lessons and many families are likely to take the opportunity to holiday around our state, enjoying our many holidays parks and camping grounds, now that travel restrictions have been eased.

Lee Duffy, Swim School Coordinator from Wanneroo Aquamotion says they will be re-starting their swimming lessons program next Monday 15th June, to give children and infants an opportunity to rebuild their swimming skills as soon as possible. They've been excited to see 92% of their regular swim school families already wanting to rebook their lessons!

Young swimmer Jaxx holding a Swim and Survive bag“We're looking forward to giving our customers a return to routine, including physical activity. Even coming into winter, the longer we hold off, the more their swimming skills are likely to regress, even if their confidence hasn't. Although we've taken a break, the aquatic dangers haven't done the same, so we're keen to get our swimmers back on track as soon as possible. Our instructors also can't wait to get back in the pool - we've all missed it!”

Royal Life Saving WA has a network of 140 Endorsed Swim Schools right across the state and has encouraged each of them to re-open as soon as possible so that children can continue their aquatic education. Getting children back into swimming lessons is a great way to not only ensure they can build vital swimming and water safety skills, but is also an opportunity for parents and carers to show their support for local swim school operators who’ve been doing it tough throughout the COVID-19 closure.

Zoran Naumovski from The Swim School WA says the closure period has been especially difficult for the small private swim schools who rely solely on swimming lessons for their income. “It’s been a very challenging time for our business, having to pause our important work of teaching children such a vital life skill. We managed to hold on to some of our staff through Job Keeper and kept them busy with maintenance and renovation of our three centres, but we are now working hard to reactivate others to staff swimming lessons going forward. What has been exciting is to see the response of parents who are so keen to get their children back into swimming. On the day we announced that we were able to restart classes we had 120 emails from customers wanting to book their children in for lessons. We’d encourage all parents and carers to support their local swim school by getting their children back into swimming as soon as possible, but please be patient as we deal with the sudden influx!”

Parents can find their local Royal Life Saving WA Endorsed Swim School at the link below.

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