Drowning epidemic threatens Australia with 500,000 pupils unable to swim


The Royal Life Saving Society of Australia estimates that at least 50,000 Australian pupils have left primary school each year this past decade without knowing how to swim, and that the country therefore faces a “drowning crisis”, maybe already manifesting itself with a spike in drownings in the 17- to 18-year age group. The society therefore launches a “Swim and Survive” fund today, supported by Uncle Tobys, aiming to put 10,000 children through swimming lessons by the end of next year.

RLS chief executive Rob Bradley says that in the 1970s and ’80s most children received swimming and water-safety education at school, but that this declined in the 1990s, leaving it more up to private swimming lessons to teach kids how to swim. This again meant that thousands of children were missing out, particularly those from lower socio-economic groups, indigenous and some migrant groups, and those in rural and remote areas.

The national swimming benchmark of Australia is to be able to swim 50 meters or to keep themselves afloat for two minutes. Quite similar to the British, but a lot shorter than the Nordic benchmark, 200 meters whereof 50 have to be on the back. Incidentally we have similar problems as the Australians, with for instance the Swedish Swimming Federation estimating that about 90% of the population could complete the test in 1970s and 80’s, but that this number has since dropped to about 70% in 2008, dropping drastically especially in regions with low socio-economic status.

Via The Australian


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Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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