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Not enough Queensland pre-schoolers are given swimming lessons

ALMOST half of all parents in Queensland don’t think their pre-school aged child could save themselves if they fell in a backyard pool.

An alarming new report revealed 34 per cent of Queensland parents don’t take their child to swimming lessons, with more than half saying it was due to a lack of money, while others thought their child was too young or could be taught at home.

Laurie Lawrence, a child drowning prevention advocate, said many parents still did not realise the vital importance of learning to swim from a young age.

“The study found 81 per cent of parents think swimming lessons are compulsory in school, which is completely incorrect,” he said.

Mr Lawrence said Australia is still losing too many children in drowning accidents.

“Over 2014-15 we lost 26 children aged four and under in preventable drownings – even one death is too many.

“It is still the number one cause of death in children under five,” he said.

Natalia Kay said swimming lessons from the age of six-months are what saved her son Nicolas who fell into a pool while the family were on holiday when he was three.

“We were on a family holiday in Zimbabwe with lots of extended family when Nicolas followed his much older cousins into the pool area one evening.

Ms Kay said she heard the kids screaming that Nicolas had fallen into the pool and rushed to help.

“By the time we got to the pool edge he was pulling himself out of the deep end albeit visibly shaken.

“Learning to swim was a lifesaving skill in our situation,” she said.

Free swimming lessons are being offered at over 500 swim clubs for children under five as a part of national Learn To Swim Week, which starts on September 24.

John O’Brien CEO of Poolwerx, which founded the initiative, said the study showed where the gaps in parents knowledge of water safety were and what areas needed addressing.

“We learnt affordability is a major issue stopping people getting swimming lessons for their child and that was a real worry.

“There are literally hundreds of schools around the country participating in Learn To Swim Week, so we’re urging parents to go on the website and get their children signed up to free lessons,” Mr O’Brien said.

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