SwimVac is back at Berrigan pool

(From left) Zoellen Way with Lewis and Darcy Way, Lillie Martin, Jake and Will Blomeley, instructor Hazel Mcdiarmid, and Miranda Traish.

Following a short delay, the annual SwimVac swimming lessons have returned to Berrigan.

The ‘SwimVac’ program — which is run by Royal Life Saving NSW during the summer holidays — will see children between the ages of three and 14 taught water safety and swimming skills.

Lessons will continue every weekday until Friday next week, sessions are available at the Berrigan War Memorial Pool, Tocumwal Swimming Pool, Finley War Memorial Pool, Jerilderie Pool, and Darlington Point Pool.

Berrigan War Memorial Pool Committee member and senior lifeguard Gary Lehre has encouraged parents to enrol their children in swimming lessons this summer.

‘‘The pool committee would urge all parents and guardians to enrol all children to take part in swimming lessons,’’ he said.

‘‘Water activity is a common summer pastime that we will all take part in at some stage.

‘‘For this reason every person must have the skills to save themselves and understand water safety.’’

Mr Lehre added that local pools are an important community resource during the summer months, and offers locals a safe and monitored place to swim.

‘‘The Berrigan Pool is critical in the summer months to allow patrons to swim and cool off in a safe environment patrolled by a qualified lifeguard,’’ he said.

‘‘This facility deters the temptation to swim in the many water channels and dams.’’

He added that if residents do wish to swim in local rivers or natural swimming spots, there are a number of factors that should be considered.

‘‘Safe entry into any water — being pools or rivers — must be understood,” said Mr Lehre.

‘‘Diving into an unknown river is a major cause of injury.

‘‘Stay in the water depth that you are comfortable with. Adults must know the children’s capabilities and be alert at all times.’’

Swimming lesson enrolments have plummeted across the country in the last two years, which Royal Life Saving Society CEO Justin Scarr said is largely due to disruptions caused by COVID-19.

Data from Royal Life Saving and the Aquatic Recreation and Swim School industry suggests that enrolments are down as much as 40 per cent in some areas, particularly metropolitan areas.

Nationally there has been a 24 per cent reduction in swimming lesson enrolments.

‘‘The fall in swimming lesson enrolments is so dramatic that Royal Life Saving is concerned that COVID-19 may create a generation of non-swimmers, who will never be safe around water,’’ Mr Scarr said.

‘‘Parents should be reminded that learning to swim is not only a partial vaccine against drowning, it boosts a lifelong love of swimming for fun, health and fitness.

‘‘With warm and wet weather expected as a result of La Niña, there will be an increased risk of drowning in our rivers, lakes, dams and swimming pools.’’

To enrol your child in the SwimVac program, or for more information, contact Royal Life Saving NSW on (02) 9634 3700.

Swimming at the Berrigan War Memorial Pool remains free this summer season, thanks to the support of local businesses, families and organisations.

The cost of maintaining pool facilities totals about $10,000 a year and guaranteeing free entry would not be possible were it not for these donations.

You can volunteer to help at the pool by contacting Lehre on 0466 256 010.