NSW Office of Sport Swim and Survive program begins in Riverina on January 8

LIFE LESSONS: Swimming instructor Robyn Quigley has taught many children, including granddaughter Mariah Todd, 4. Picture: MARK JESSER
LIFE LESSONS: Swimming instructor Robyn Quigley has taught many children, including granddaughter Mariah Todd, 4. Picture: MARK JESSER

Warm weather, school holidays and the need to keep children occupied makes January an ideal time for swimming lessons.

And all those reasons also make learning to swim essential for safety’s sake.

Next week the NSW Office of Sport Swim and Survive program begins at swimming pools like Albury, Lavington, Howlong, Jindera, Urana and Oaklands, with some places still available.

Over nine consecutive weekdays, children aged from 18 months to 12 years learn skills such as water awareness, stroke development and swimming endurance.

At Howlong Swimming Pool, instructor Robyn Quigley said the children could achieve a great deal from the daily lessons.

“You’ll get the nervous child that you’ll find is actually coming in and not scared of the water any more,” she said.

“We do a lot of water safety; what to do at the river, what to do when you’re out camping, what to do at the lake, what are your rules around the pool.”

Ms Quigley, of Chiltern, began teaching swimming 13 years ago when her children’s school needed an instructor.

Another motivation was a family pool tragedy many years ago.

“That got me to think people need to know more,” she said. “This was my opportunity to save some more kids.”

Some pupils put their new knowledge to good use, for example the boy at Chiltern who remembered how to save himself, and not endanger others, when caught out of his depth in the river.

“I was very proud of that one,” Ms Quigley said.

Howlong Swimming Pool manager Karen MacKinnon said she loved to see the children’s progress during the nine days of lessons.

“There’s kids there that will be latched on to Robyn to start off with and then a couple of sessions after they’re a lot better,” she said.

Office of Sport chief executive Matt Miller said to enrol, phone 13 13 02 or visit sport.nsw.gov.au/events/swim-and-survive.

“Swimming is an important life skill and a fun form of exercise,” he said.

Royal Life Saving Society figures indicated drownings increased by 32 per cent in 2016-17 among children aged 0-4 years and by 8 per cent in the five to 14 years age group.

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