LEARN OR DROWN: Karen Peters said parents should make sure their children can handle themselves in the deep end of a pool, just like Jade, 11, and Abby, 8, Kingston.
LEARN OR DROWN: Karen Peters said parents should make sure their children can handle themselves in the deep end of a pool, just like Jade, 11, and Abby, 8, Kingston. Molly Glassey

Swimming skills take a deadly dive

OUR kids can't swim.

That is the cry of the Warwick woman who sees children struggling in the water every day.

WIRAC aquatic co-ordinator Karen Peters is constantly shocked at the lack of swimming skills of Warwick children, and said she hoped it would not take another local drowning for parents to tune in to the issue.

"People in Warwick think they're immune to drowning,” Mrs Peters said.

"It frustrates me that so many drownings are avoidable if people just understood the risks there are around our waterways, and this includes pools.

"To me, parents in the town just don't see the value in teaching their children to swim, and it's disgusting.”

Between July 2002 and June 2016, 1045 people drowned in Australian rivers, creeks and streams, and it was only two years ago a six-year-old girl drowned at Leslie Dam.

"We're more at risk in country towns, and people just don't get that,” Mrs Peters said.

Last year, a WIRAC lifesaver rescued a drowning toddler who flipped onto her face while wearing floaties.

"Parents think they can just strap floaties onto their child and put them in the pool,” she said.

"The mum was pacing along the pool, scared and unsure what to do but she couldn't swim either.

"Parents will just drop their kids off at the pool, even if they can't swim, and expect us to babysit them.

"Or they'll come and sit on their phone.”

She said teaching a child the lifesaving skill of swimming was simply a no-brainer, and cost as little as $13.50 a lesson.

Yet parents were not willing to fork out according to the aquatic co-ordinator.

"They think it's up to the school to provide these lessons,” she said.

"Schools will come here five to ten days a week, but it's not up to them to teach the kids; it's up to parents.”

Mrs Peters remembered a time where school carnivals took full days and every student competed.

"A lot of schools just bring their swimmers now,” she said.

And the standard of swimming is really, really low. Back in my day the whole school came, and everyone swam.

"Maybe you would have a quarter of the students who can swim these days.”



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