Call for grandparents to pick up slack on swimming lessons
CHAMPION coach Laurie Lawrence has come up with a solution to get more children to swimming lessons: Get grandparents to pick up the slack.
The water safety campaigner was appalled by the number of children under five years old who had lost their lives and urged extended families to help time-poor parents.
A Royal Life Saving water safety report released this week revealed damning drowning figures, particularly in Queensland.
Another report by Surf Life Saving Queensland feared more children would drown unless the government stepped in to improve swimming skills.
The state's peak surf lifesaving body said they had found an increased rate of low to poor swimming ability among school students.
"The report from Royal Lifesaving showed we lost 29 kids under four - that's just crazy stuff," Mr Lawrence said.
"Grandparents have to become more involved. They can even pay for lessons, you can't take it (your money) with you (when you die).
"And I tell you what, it's the best half-hour you'll spend with your grandkids. It's just you, them and the water. No screens or distractions."
Mr Lawrence also had a shot at schools, saying they had taken their eye off the ball.
"The biggest issue is schools aren't putting the emphasis on learning to swim that they used to. A few years ago every school was trying to get its own pool.
"Because there are so many demands academically at schools some principles are losing emphasis. In some cases the bus fares are dearer than the lessons."
Mr Lawrence, who still runs swim schools at Banora Point and Logan, said his schools were taking part in a Learn2Swim Week initiative offering free swimming lessons over the school holidays.
"The most important things with infant aquatics is that it can save a life and it's healthy.
"Studies have shown kids who have lessons early have better social, mental and physical abilities - it's a no brainer.
"If you take the kids in for a week of lessons the difference is astronomical.
"While you're there it's like watching grass grow. But if you get them in the water every day they'll bloom like a flower."