Kalumburu kids build their swimming skills

17 November 2021

Children from Kalumburu Remote Community School have been enjoying swimming lessons at the local Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pool in their community. The children, aged from 5 through to 17, have been taking part in one lesson each week to build their swimming skills.

Royal Life Saving WA data shows that Aboriginal children aged 5-14 are 8.6 times more likely to fatally drown than non-Aboriginal children in WA. Contributing factors to this overrepresentation in drowning statistics include the fact that they have lower levels of swimming and water safety skills due to various barriers including cost, access, medical conditions and cultural barriers.

The local school has a fantastic relationship with the Kalumburu Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pool, with Pool Manager Ryan Ingley very well respected by the local community. School Teacher Rachel Drewry says Ryan is a great support. “He’s an extra pair of eyes and ears at the pool and always has a supply of sinky toys! Rhino's relationships with the commuity are second to none and he ensures the pool is available for all swimming and safety activities and events.”

The lessons were taught by Ryan’s wife, Sam Dalton, who also happens to be a teacher at the school! In addition to school in-term swimming lessons, Sam with the support of Lotterywest has also been instrumental in working with the community to co-design and establish Infant Aquatics, First Aid and Bronze Medallion programs at the pool, and is currently supervising two of the trainee swim teachers - Hayden Duce and Mo Clugston. Teacher Rachel Drewry is also a part of the swim teacher team – it really is a community effort!

Rachel says having access to these lessons is vital for the local children. “The kids in Kalumburu live surrounded by water. Many go fishing regularly with their families and spend a lot of time in and by waterways. It is vital that they know how to swim and that they know how to be safe around water.”

She says it’s incredible to see the improvement in the children’s swimming ability since they’ve been able to take part in lessons on a regular basis. “Sam began teaching the Kalumburu kids swimming in term 4 of 2020, and they are like little fish this year! The children love swimming lessons, bar none. They really enjoy their time in the pool and they are very well versed in safety rules. Their fitness and stroke development is improving every week.”

Thanks to an important service agreement with the Department of Education, the Remote Pools program is making inroads to ensure remote communities have access to learn vital skills. Rachel says that’s certainly the case in Kalumburu. “The pool is an amazing facility and is well used by the whole community. It provides hours of fun and fitness for the kids and the community in general. The school has a no school no pool policy, so it also helps with attendance – which is an added bonus! Remote pools also have the added health benefit of helping with ear, nose, throat issues and helping with skin complaints.”

It’s fantastic to see just how well-loved the Kalumburu Remote Pool is by the local community and the amazing relationships being developed between the school and the pool for the benefit of local children. You can read more about our Remote Aboriginal Swimming Program at the link below.

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