In a country with a climate like ours, swimming skills are pretty much a non-negotiable. With pools, beaches and waterholes a'plenty there is just too much opportunity for something to wrong when it comes to kids near water.
But what about adults?
Worrying new figures from a national survey commissioned by Kingswim have revealed 51 percent of Australian adults can't swim 50 metres or more without stopping. However, the news is better for our kids, with stats showing that childhood swimming lessons are paying off.
"These statistics are reflected in the Royal Life Saving 2018 Drowning Report, with 32 percent of drowning deaths occurring in the 55+ age range compared to 19 per cent for under 25s," says Kingswim Marketing Manager, Rowena Thomasson.
"While these are terrible statistics it's not all sad news, the survey revealed younger demographics had a much higher swimming ability, which correlated to the swimming lessons they received as children."
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Kidsafe Victoria CEO Melanie Courtney says that swimming lessons are a critical part of a comprehensive home pool safety defence.
"Children can drown quickly and silently in just a few centimetres of water. Swimming lessons, together with active adult supervision of children – both in and around water – first aid knowledge and a compliant and well-maintained pool barrier are critical elements in keeping your family safe over the coming summer season."
Mum of three, Jenny Ong doesn't want her children to feel the anxiety she has around water.
Mum of three, Jenny Ong says she knows all too well the anxiety caused by not being able to swim as an adult.
"Neither my partner or I are confident in the water so teaching our girls to swim was always going to be difficult for us," she says.
"I won't swim anywhere I can't touch the bottom and don't want my children to feel the same uneasiness in the water.
"My eldest two are now both in regular lessons which they absolutely love and I'm relieved to know they're mastering a life-saving skill."
60 per cent of Australians surveyed who had adequate lessons say they can swim 50 metres or more.
Swimming lessons work
The research proved that children who had professional swimming lessons to subsidise any lessons at home were much more confident in their ability to swim as an adult.
"The survey found that people who had lessons as a child through two or more channels (e.g. from swimming school, family/friends or at primary/secondary school) are more likely to feel their lessons were adequate," says Thomasson.
"Close to half of 18-24-year-olds say they had swimming lessons through three or more channels, with 84 per cent believing they received adequate swimming lessons as a child – demonstrating how crucial it is for children to receive professional swimming lessons in addition to anything taught at home.
"At the other end of the age spectrum among people aged 65+, around 60 per cent either received lessons through only one channel, or can't swim at all."
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Australian swimming stats
- 48 per cent of adults can swim 50 metres or more without stopping.
- 10 per cent can't swim at all.
- 88 per cent received some type of swimming lessons as a child – from parents/ family (45 per cent), at primary/secondary school (63 per cent) or via a swim school (43 per cent).
- 12 per cent received no lessons at all.
- 52 per cent received swimming lessons via 2 or more channels e.g. via parents and at a swim school.
- 45 per cent of 18-24-year-olds had swimming lessons through 3 or more channels.
- 84 per cent of 18-24-year-olds believe they received adequate lessons.
- 60 per cent of those aged 65+ either received lessons through only one channel, or can't swim at all.
- 54 per cent of those aged 65+ are the least likely to believe they received adequate lessons.
- 60 per cent of those who had adequate lessons say they can swim 50 metres or more.
- 41 per cent of those who had no lessons, and 21 percent of those who had inadequate lessons cannot swim at all.