The First Lap learn to swim program will end in June. After another summer of tragic drownings, we are calling on both sides of NSW state politics to commit to keeping it alive.
The voucher system helps families pay for swimming lessons for preschoolers, “Save First Lap and you’ll save lives,’ says Australian Swim Schools Association board member Jon Harker.
“It’s been a horrible summer, every life lost is a tragedy. Now is not the time to end First Lap. Families are under financial stress as it is. Before the election both the premier and opposition leader should commit to keeping the program.”
“We had millions of missed lessons during COVID and now families are facing real cost of living pressures.”
The $100 vouchers were originally introduced on the back of a devastating 108% increase in drownings of children under four.
Mr Harker, the CEO of Carlile Swimming, stressed the importance of early access to swimming lessons.
“Every bit of research tells you that starting young is just so important. Swim schools teach vital water safety skills and learning to swim is the biggest factor in keeping children safer.”
“We don’t want vulnerable children to fall through the cracks. A $100 leg up might be the difference between starting swimming lessons or not. I don’t see how anyone can justify ending the First Lap now.”
Early access to swimming is not just a potential life saving measure. Research conducted by Australia’s Griffith University found that three- to five-year-olds, who have been involved in structured swimming lessons are way ahead of their non swimming peers, in so many other areas:
- 11 months ahead in verbal skills
- 6 months ahead in mathematic skills
- 2 months ahead in literacy skills
- 17 months ahead in story recall
- 20 months ahead in understanding directions
“Swimming was once a must for every Australian. It’s hard to believe how far we have slipped. Right now, more than 40% of children leaving primary school can’t swim 50 meters, it’s just not good enough.” Mr Harker said.
“Even if your child could swim 50 meters in an Olympic pool do you really think they would be capable of saving themselves if they were caught in a rip?”
Call or email your local member. Let’s campaign to save children by saving First Lap.