Policy makes splash

November 30, 2016

Michelle Swift (front) is immensely proud of her children (from left) Kalen 14, Brennan 12, and Carter 11. Picture: Simon Bingham

A leading Shepparton swimming instructor has welcomed the news that all Victorian school children will need to learn to swim from next year.

Shepparton Swimming Club head coach Michelle Swift said any changes that meant more kids would get potentially life-saving swimming lessons was a good move.

‘‘There is never a situation where kids aren’t exposed to water in some form,’’ she said.

‘‘If they are going to the beach or walking by the lake they could get in a situation where they need to know how to swim.’’

Emergency Services and Education Minister James Merlino announced earlier this week that swimming lessons would be compulsory for primary school students from next year.

Year 6 students will be tested on their ability to swim 50m after undertaking swim survival classes.

Schools will not get extra funding to implement the policy, which is based on a trial that is still being assessed.

Currently, Victorian schoolchildren can learn to swim as part of a school program, but often it comes with an added cost to the parents.

Mrs Swift said it was important that children got the chance to learn to swim regardless of their parents’ incomes.

‘‘There have been too many situations where kids have had to sit at the side of the pool because they don’t know how to swim,’’ she said.

‘‘It happens a lot. It’s a bit sad.

‘‘It shouldn’t be cost prohibitive, it should be available to all.’’

The changes were announced after new figures revealed 43 people lost their lives in Victorian waters in 2015-16, five more than the 10-year average.

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