Danielle Taylor and Alpha Learn to Swim awarded by Swim Australia
The small central Queensland community of Alpha has made a splash in national swimming safety circles, receiving two awards at Swim Australia's annual awards night in Brisbane last Saturday.
Alpha Learn to Swim won the small swim school category in the Outstanding Service to the Community award, while its director Danielle Taylor has become the Swim Australia teacher of the year.
That award was given alongside one for Australian coach of the year, Simon Cusack, Cate and Bronte Campbell's coach, and Danielle said both of Alpha's awards had been a huge honour.
Not only do they show that a small swim school located in remote Queensland can compete with metropolitan centres but Danielle said it would help in their continued quest for funding to ensure all bush children could access lessons.
In January this year federal sports minister Bridget McKenzie commended the group and the Barcaldine Regional Council for stepping into a funding breach left by state-funded swim lessons that failed to cater for distance education students.
The Australia Swim Coaches and Teachers Association citation said Alpha had been chosen for the Outstanding Service award for a collaborative eight-week drowning prevention program that consisted of free lessons for every child in the region.
"Alpha played a vital role in advocacy, obtaining funding and program delivery and bringing the local council, Swim Australia and Royal Lifesaving together...demonstrating great community outreach both locally and internationally," it said.
Of Danielle, her citation said she had worked tirelessly, mostly on a volunteer basis, to advocate for and develop pathways for children in the learn to swim and swimming club environment.
Swim Australia CEO Brendon Ward said she was simply a legend.
"She has been a dedicated teacher to the rural and remote area now for 10 years.
"She is committed to the children in her area, as well as engaging in swimming development, teaching, research and policy as a whole. This is what makes her an excellent swim teacher."
Danielle said it was two passionate coaches that she encountered in her time as a competitive swimmer, thanks to a swimming scholarship with Fairholme College in Toowoomba, that gave her the desire to help others in return.
"We do it for the kids," she said, referring to her father, Henry Taylor, Chloe Taylor and new Alpha Learn to Swim teachers Zoe Bridgeman, Chloe Wilson and Sandy Ford.
Between them they have a clientele of 146 children between Alpha and Jericho and Danielle said they were lucky to have so much community involvement.
"A culture has built up that's driving swim safety messages locally," she said.
Danielle has been appointed a senior project officer with Royal Lifesaving Australia and now divides her time between Sydney and Alpha.
She's currently working on a master's degree in public health and business administration, and plans to start a PhD next year.
Her topic, neurodevelopmental readiness in children aged under four, hints at her original medical studies before she decided to take the research route.
Danielle has presented on drowning prevention at a number of conferences nationally and internationally and will be doing so again this October, at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention in Durban, South Africa, along with Learn to Swim coach Henry Taylor and Barcaldine regional councillor Sean Dillon.
Topics they'll address are water competencies in two-to-four-year-old children, rural and remote drowning rates and risk factors, and sustainable drowning preventions in rural and remote communities.
Statistics show that Danielle and Alpha's commitment is much needed in rural Australia.
According to Royal Lifesaving Australia, there have been 173 fatal drownings in remote and very remote Australia in the last 16 years.
Under fours are over-represented in the drowning statistics, and as rurality increases so does the drowning death rate.
Very remote Australians are over 11 times more likely to drown than residents of major cities.