Olympian and Belgravia Leisure ambassador Brooke Hanson is urging Australians to not be complacent when it comes to children learning to swim.
“It’s vital for kids and families to be safe in, on and around water this summer. I’m urging all families to put your children in learn to swim lessons and give them an opportunity to gain important swimming and water safety skills”.
The Olympic gold and silver medallist is raising three water-loving kids who will spend their summer swimming in pools, the ocean, creeks and waterfalls. Brooke believes that swimming and water safety lessons are the number one key to getting childhood drownings down to zero.
“The recently released National Drowning Report highlights a significant improvement in child drowning rates, which is undoubtedly a positive step forward. However, it’s crucial to recognise that for every fatal drowning incident, there are three non-fatal drowning cases. In the case of children aged 0 to 4 years, this ratio is even more alarming, with eight non-fatal drowning incidents for every fatal one in this age group.
“While we commend the progress we’ve made, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to achieving a goal of zero drownings among our children. This upcoming summer, our mission is clear: we want the report to reach a count of ZERO child drownings and maintain that status.”
The Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2023, found there were 281 drowning deaths over the past 12 months.
Royal Life Saving Society – Australia General Manager – Capability & Industry RJ Houston said that the hot and dry conditions forecast this summer mean water safety should be top of mind.
“Royal Life Saving continues to be concerned about declining swimming and water safety skills among children, and adults more generally. All people living in Australia should be learning swimming, water safety and lifesaving skills to keep them and their loved ones safe this summer.”
Brooke continued, “As a mother with children who enjoy water-related activities, I understand the importance of swimming lessons in safeguarding our children. I implore parents not to become complacent, especially as we anticipate a hot and dry summer, during which our kids are more likely to be in the water. Let us collectively ensure that our children are equipped with the necessary skills and supervision to enjoy the water safely.”
Brooke almost drowned twice as a baby she was put into swimming lessons and taught a skill for life. Her swimming journey saw her race around the world, representing Australia over 25 times at major international events.
The Olympian, mother, motivational speaker and TV presenter will be keeping the beaches safer this summer, patrolling her local beach as a surf life saver at Currumbin Beach Vikings on the Gold Coast.
“I’m an active mum of Cooper 14, Billy 10 and Matilda 8, they have all done swim lessons since they were 6 months old. Along with my swimming husband Jared Clarke who’s now a firefighter our family can’t wait to spend our summer in the water. Every day of our summer holidays will be spent at the beach in the morning and in our home pool in the afternoon. As parents we’ve always wanted our kids to understand the importance of learning swimming and water safety skills as well as gaining the surf life saving knowledge to help themselves and others in an emergency.”
“Enrolling children in learn to swim lessons in the build-up to summer is a must, doing extra classes and the intensive holiday programs are a great way for children to gain confidence in the water, so call your local swim centre and find out what’s available. There are incredible programs happening for all ages at centres across Australia.”
Scott Vanderheyden, Belgravia Leisure’s National Aquatic Safety Manager agrees with Brooke. “As our seasonal pools across the country begin to open up for business, we are ramping up for an extremely busy summer of swimming. Parents need to ensure that their kids are equipped with the skills they need to enjoy the water safely, and swimming lessons is undeniably one of the best ways to achieve this.”
Brooke still swims every day and loves sharing her love of water as a water safety advocate, she’s been an AUSTSWIM ambassador for 15 years and continues to use her voice to share the important swim safety messages.
Brooke wants parents, grandparents and carers to secure kids learn to swim spots now, and continue lessons over summer and always remember these important tips:
- Maintain constant supervision with children in, on and around the water
- Stay within reach of young children
- Remove distractions such as phones – watch your child not your phone
- Never swim alone
- Learn to swim – it is a skill for life! Learn swimming, water safety and lifesaving skills
- Recognise and respond quickly in the event of potential risk
- Learn vital First Aid including CPR
- Check your pool fence
- For adults – avoid alcohol around water
- Swim at a patrolled beach and between the red and yellow flags
- Be sun smart
- Wear a lifejacket when boating, rock fishing or paddling
- Always check the conditions, including weather forecasts
For those with a GOswim membership, you get access to the pool outside of lessons. If you continue your membership when lessons stop over summer, the family of the child can come in for free. You can enrol in GOswim learn to swim lessons here.