Royal Life Saving expresses concern over significant drop in swimming lesson registrations

Royal Life Saving and the water recreation and swimming schools industry released new data showing a significant 25% drop in swimming lesson registrations, with the greatest impact shown in metropolitan areas and among children aged seven to 12 years with a 40% drop in some areas.

Royal Life Saving analyzed swimming school registrations provided by partners YMCA, Belgravia Leisure, BlueFit Group, Aquatic Recreation Institute – NSW and the Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association (ASCTA).

Children’s swimming and water safety skills are essential to preventing drowning and a lifelong love of water. Australia has a global reputation in this area, as are our aquatic centers and swimming schools.

Royal Life Saving urges parents to assess their children’s swimming skills. If they can’t meet national swimming and water safety benchmarks for their age, they should register them for classes before the summer.

Royal Life Saving Managing Director Justin Scarr notes that “the drop in swimming lesson registrations is so dramatic that Royal Life Saving fears COVID-19 will create a generation of non-swimmers, who will never be safe around some water. Parents should be reminded that learning to swim is not only a partial drowning vaccine, it reinforces a lifelong love of swimming for fun, health and fitness.

Research published by Royal Life Saving and the Water Recreation and Swimming School Industry shows that registrations in September 2020 (compared to September 2019) have:

  • 25% drop on average across Australia (excluding Victoria)
  • 8% drop in children 0 to 3 years old and 22% drop in children 4 to 6 years old
  • 29% drop in children 7 to 9 years old, and 41% in children 10 to 12 years old
  • The impacts are greater in metropolitan areas than in regional areas
  • The largest drop in registrations recorded is in the Sydney metropolitan area (41%)
  • Data excludes Victoria as most swimming pools were closed in September

The largest drop in enrollment is for school-aged children, which fell from 29% to 41%. Royal Life Saving believes this age is exactly the wrong time to quit school.

Research shows that cost, distance, parent awareness, and negative experiences are all barriers to swimming lessons. COVID-19 has put financial strain on families and raised safety concerns.

ASCTA Executive Director Brendon Ward says “Swimming schools have been deeply affected by the closures during the winter; they now have comprehensive COVID-19 plans in place to do everything possible to ensure the safety and well-being of their community. Professional swimming lessons provide essential skills that last a lifetime and keep people safe in the water.

Melinda Crole, Managing Director of YMCA Australia, which operates aquatic facilities and swim schools across Australia, notes that “the social and mental health benefits of a swim in the local pool are often overlooked. Aquatic centers provide a safe and social place to exercise, practice essential swimming skills, relax and feel a sense of connection with the community. All of these things are vital during a summer impacted by COVID. “

Scarr suggests that “If a 7, 8, or 9-year-old can’t swim 50 yards and swim in the water for two minutes yet, they should take swimming and water safety lessons.” Cost can be a barrier, and we encourage parents to investigate state government sports vouchers, plan ahead to enroll in subsidized vacation programs, and ask grandparents to. offer classes for birthdays or Christmas.

National swimming and water safety benchmarks for children ages 6 and 12 are:

  • Any Australian by the age of 6 should be able to swim continuously for at least five meters, submerge themselves, overcome obstacles and identify people and actions to take in an emergency;
  • Any 12-year-old Australian should be able to swim at least 50 meters continuously and swim in place for two minutes, and rescue a person by using a non-swim lifesaving technique with non-rigid aids and performing a sequence of survival by wearing clothes.

The National Swimming and Water Safety Framework, including benchmarks, can be viewed here

Image courtesy of the YMCA.

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March 18, 2020 – Royal Life Saving issues position statement on the impact of coronavirus on aquatic facilities

September 23, 2020 – Paul Sadler Swimland fears that limited access to swimming lessons increases the risk of drowning for children

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August 11, 2020 – Royal Life Saving Releases New National Swimming and Water Safety Framework for Learn-to-Swim Programs

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July 30, 2020 – Carlile Swimming Water Safety Advocate Highlights Value of Swimming Lessons and New Pro-Visual Publishing Guide

June 11, 2020 – Wellington City Council to offer free off-peak swimming in reopened aquatic facilities

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May 20, 2020 – Royal Life Saving fears restart of AIS may take swimming and water safety programs into account

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November 30, 2019 – Royal Life Saving Tasmania offers tailor-made swimming and water safety lessons for high-risk students

May 1, 2020 – Royal Life Saving advocates for the reopening of Australia’s aquatic centers and swimming schools

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December 19, 2019 – Royal Life Saving WA Partners With LIWA Aquatics To Focus On Water Safety Vigilance During Summer Vacation

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