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Learning to Swim at Sixty

At sixty-years young, Jenna Price took the plunge and enrolled in adult learn-to-swim lessons. Despite having lessons as a child Jenna said that she was anxious around water and struggled to grasp the strokes, eventually pulling out of lessons with only the ability to perform what she describes as a loose resemblance of breaststroke that barely took her to the end of the pool. Jenna said she never went back in the water after lessons.

Royal Life Saving research shows that 75% of children exit swimming lessons by the age of 8 years. Justin Scarr, CEO, Royal Life Saving Society – Australia says this is often prior to them achieving more comprehensive swimming and water safety benchmarks.

“We’re concerned that many children exit swimming lessons at an age where they are less likely to learn more advanced skills that will help to protect them in a wider range of aquatic environments. This not only puts them at greater risk of drowning, but as they get older, they miss out on the all the wonderful benefits of swimming and aquatic recreation.”

Jenna said her parents were not really competent swimmers and shared the same fear of water.

”We would visit both beaches and pools but observe them more as things of beauty than as recreational areas.”

It wasn’t until Jenna became a parent herself that she realised what she was missing out on. Sitting alone on the edge of the pool or the shoreline of the beach, Jenna would watch her aquatically skilled husband and children frolic around in the water.

With an upcoming holiday to the Barrier Reef, Jenna’s husband suggested she might have more fun if she was actually in the water than watching from a boat.

So, Jenna decided it was time to overcome her fears and jump in (so to speak), by enrolling in one-on-one learn to swim lessons.

On the first day of her lesson Jenna said she was having second thoughts.

“I cried all the way there and really wanted to call it off. My eldest [daughter] agreed to meet me at the pool and she watched from the side of the pool.”

Jenna’s instructor Tim at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence quickly put her at ease, encouraging her through the lesson. The Centre take enrolments for people of all ages, ability and background.

Almost two years down the track since her first lesson Jenna said she feels much more confident.

“Swimming isn’t my first choice of recreational activity but it definitely doesn't freak me out the way it used to. The strange thing is that I also used to worry about going on boats. Learning to swim has made me much less anxious about being on the water as well as in the water.”

Justin Scarr, CEO, Royal Life Saving Society – Australia said Jenna’s story is not uncommon.

“Many people have missed out at a younger age due to financial, geographical or cultural reasons.”

“Swimming and water safety lessons are not only important for drowning prevention, but open up many opportunities for different sports, social activities or careers.”

“It’s never too late to learn, or to refresh your skills, and we encourage everyone to enrol in swimming and water safety lessons,” Mr Scarr said.

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