Warmun children showcase their swimming and lifesaving skills

5 April 2017

Warmun is a remote aboriginal community in the WA’s Kimberley region, 3009 km north-east of Perth. The Kimberley region’s rivers and creeks are prone to serious flooding in the wet season, making swimming and water safety education vital to those living in these communities.

This need has been tragically highlighted in recent months with the drowning death of a 6 year old Aboriginal girl at the Ivanhoe Crossing near Kununurra late last year, while a man lost his life earlier this year while rescuing a young girl from the Ord River.aboriginal children swimming with kickboards at Warmun Pool

Since 2008 the remote aboriginal swimming pool at Warmun has been making an amazing impact in the community, not only ensuring children and families have an opportunity to learn these vital swimming and water safety skills, but providing a range of health and social benefits, including encouraging children to attend school through the “No School No Pool” policy, improving health outcomes with a noticeable reduction in eye, nose and skin infections, and teaching children about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

Recently 80 children from the local Warmun Community School and Frog Hollow School attended a special swimming and lifesaving carnival at the pool, which enabled them to showcase the skills they have been learning through the Go for 2 & 5 Regional and Remote Communities Swimming and Lifesaving program throughout the season. The program, known as Swim for Fruit, encourages children to take part in after school and weekend lap swimming, for which they are rewarded with a healthy fruit snack.

aboriginal children taking part in a pool noodle race with an instructor at Warmun Pool

Pool Manager Jamie O’Donohue says last week’s carnival was thoroughly enjoyed by the children who took part.

The older kids from Year 4 to High School competed in swimming events including the standard freestyle and backstroke, along with special water safety relays which involved the children throwing kickboards to rescue other participants from the water. The younger children from pre-primary to Year 3 held their own mini carnival in the shallower pool which involved noodle races, kickboard races, and treasure hunts using tennis balls, dive sticks and rubber duckies!”

Jamie says apart from watching the children enjoy taking part in the events there was one other fantastic highlight of the day. “There were also 50 adults in attendance, including parents and teachers, as well as 14 toddlers in swimming nappies, who were VERY well supervised by their parents during the carnival. This was extremely pleasing as we have been working hard to educate parents about the Watch Around Water principals, so a big thumbs up to them!”

With the swimming pool season at Warmun coming to a close Jamie says the year has been one full of highlights for the whole community. “We’ve held high school waterpolo games, which have been amazing because the kids just keep improving! The games are just so competitive, especially girls vs boys, and are fun to teach and umpire. The teachers and teachers assistants also join in so it’s provided some good healthy fun all round, with participants rewarded with fruit afterwards.”

"We also had the LIWA Watch Around Water inflatable up here for the first time ever this season, and that was a massive hit with all the kids as well!”

Royal Life Saving Society, in collaboration with the Housing Authority, Healthway and the Department of Sport and Recreation, looks forward to being able to assist Jamie and his fellow remote pool managers in the development of even more innovative swimming, lifesaving and water sports activities when the new season gets underway later this year, and seeing the continued improvement in the swimming and water safety skills of all the children involved!