What is absolutely clear is that ‘all indoor pools are closed in Step 2’ Outdoor swimming pools are open for exercise only. (Metro Melbourne as of 27 Sept 2020)
Indoor swim schools are still shut down because of Covid restrictions and many parents are frustrated and worried about children missing out on vital lessons that could potentially be life saving as we head into summer this year.
Swim schools in Victoria have been closed for 6 months leading to not only significant income loss to swim school businesses, but more tragically to loss of life. 13 people (incl. 5 children, aged 2 and under) drowned in Victoria between July and September this year, that’s up 9 on the rolling 5-year average.
Outdoor swimming pools are open in Victoria with fewer people allowed in the pool at any one time, this is great news for squad swimmers. Unfortunately, most Learn2Swim lessons, which teaches little ones to get themselves to the edge of the pool, if they accidentally fall in are held indoors.
These are life saving skills for children in and around water this summer with most drownings happening when no one is around to see an accidental fall into water and children must rely on their previous aquatic training to save themselves.
For most children the lessons that have been learnt will be rusty and without repetition will by now have been forgotten, setting them back dramatically. The months they have spent outside of swimming lessons means that muscle memory has been lost and they will have regressed in the ability to swim. For every child, getting back to where they were pre-covid will be different, based on their confidence in water and their stage of development.
Families who don’t have access to outdoor pools might head to open waterways and the beach where there is greater risk of potential drowning, with rips and strong currents. These sites are often unsupervised by trained lifesavers. These outings pose the greatest danger and we as parents need to be extra vigilant and hands on in supervising our kids.
If children are going back to primary school, then it begs the question; Why are swim schools not allowed to reopen for lessons? It’s common sense that learning to swim is a skill for life and should be included as a vital part of all school’s curriculum and education plan. Perhaps primary schools and swim schools in the future could form alliances and make aquatic education part of weekly PE for every child.
The restrictions across Victoria are different for Metropolitan and Regional areas and it looks like indoor swim schools will be closed until the 19 October (Step 3). The last step will be in November and then we look forward to Covid Normal. Until swim school reopen please be ever watchful around water with toddlers and children. Accidents happen in seconds. Let’s make this a Super Summer, and remember to Supervise, Supervise, supervise to stay safe!
Photo credit Vendela Larsson