Having a swimming lesson at Trinity College swimming pool, from left to right, Alana Foster, two, Lachlan MacRae, three, Joshua McInerney, five, Freya Byrne, three, and swim instructor Nicole Larkings.
Having a swimming lesson at Trinity College swimming pool, from left to right, Alana Foster, two, Lachlan MacRae, three, Joshua McInerney, five, Freya Byrne, three, and swim instructor Nicole Larkings. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Child drownings a 'hidden epidemic'

IT COULD have been a tragic day when Jackson Foster of Lismore was just a toddler and fell into the family pool.

But he had been taught to swim and was able to paddle to the side of the pool and cling on until his mother, Jenny Foster, who was just a few metres away was able to get to him.

"I thought to myself, 'that's why we have swimming lessons'," she said, recalling the day.

Jackson, now five, still does learn to swim classes and so does his sister Alana, two.

Alana started lessons when she was just seven weeks old.

"It's about getting them used to the water," Mrs Foster said.

"And it's about safety. I don't want them to be Olympians, I just want them to be able to get themselves out of trouble."

Alana can jump off the blocks at Trinity Aquatic Centre where she has weekly lessons with her brother and can hold her breath and swim to the side of the pool.

Royal Life Saving has launched the 2011 Keep Watch campaign to reduce the number of toddler drowning deaths.

Almost 300 children under the age of five have drowned in the past nine years with 28 children under five having drowned in the past 12 months.

About 60% of all toddler drownings happen in the child's home and about 60% of toddler drowning victims are aged two years or under.

Royal Life Saving warns drowning has become a hidden epidemic and says much more must be done to ensure Australia achieves the 50% reduction in child drowning hoped for by the year 2020.



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