Port Stephens swim schools offering free lessons for children under 5 as part of Learn2Swim Week in October

Swim schools in Port Stephens will offer free lessons to young children for a week in October as part of a national campaign aimed at driving down drowning deaths.

Stephen Doran from Poolwerx Port Stephens, the company behind national Learn2Swim Week, said it is important to teach children from a young age how to be comfortable, confident and safe in and around large bodies of water.

“Last year across Australia there were tragically 29 drowning deaths in children aged 0 to 4 years, with three quarters of these deaths resulting from a fall into the water,” Mr Doran said.

“That is why it is so important to familiarise kids with water at an early age and swimming lessons can provide under-fives with the lifesaving skills they need to know to get themselves out of trouble.”

Poolwerx has partnered with Tomaree Aquatic Centre, Lakeside Leisure Centre and Tilligerry Aquatic Centre to offer free lessons to children aged under 5 for Learn2Swim Week, which runs October 2 to 9.

Mr Doran said Learn2Swim Week helps to get the message across to parents that children can begin water familiarisation lessons from as early as 4-6 months of age and that by 18 months of age, children who have attended regular swimming lessons have the skills they need to get themselves safely back to the side of the pool.

Evelyn Dunn, 1, learning to swim at Lakeside Leisure Centre, Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Evelyn Dunn, 1, learning to swim at Lakeside Leisure Centre, Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

“Our survey of parents who participated in Learn2Swim Week last year showed that 60 per cent went on to enrol their under-fives in regular swimming lessons,” he said.

“The free swimming lessons our local swim schools are providing during Learn2Swim Week give parents the opportunity to get their under-fives familiar with water and see firsthand the benefits of teaching them life-saving water skills.”

Laurie Lawrence from Kids Alive - Do the Five is the program ambassador and has once again partnered with Poolwerx to deliver the Learn2Swim initiative.

He said swim schools that signed up to deliver the free lessons were once again showing they were at the forefront of water safety awareness in young children.

“I encourage all parents with children under five to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity,” Mr Lawrence said.

To register your child to take part in the free Learn2Swim Week lessons, head to: learn2swimweek.com