(From left) Sarah Norris, Lachy Sellings, Arista Quod with teacher Sharanne Maclean, Rex Egglestone, Mahli Quod, Sonya Quod, Sarah Purvis and Eddie Purvis.
(From left) Sarah Norris, Lachy Sellings, Arista Quod with teacher Sharanne Maclean, Rex Egglestone, Mahli Quod, Sonya Quod, Sarah Purvis and Eddie Purvis. Tamera Francis

Prossie parents raise water babies

PROSERPINE mum Tracey Stefani had the fright of her life when her four-year-old son fell into a friend's pool and didn't surface.

Without her quick-thinking actions, Nick may never have grown up to be the water baby he is now as a happy seven-year-old.

Siblings Nick Stefani, Luke Stefani and Makaela Stefani after swimming lessons at Proserpine Swimming pool.
LOVE TO SWIM: Siblings Nick, Luke and Makaela Stefani after swimming lessons at Proserpine Swimming Pool as instructor Sharanne Maclean teaches another youngster in the background. Tamera Francis

Despite many Proserpine parents believing otherwise, water safety and swimming lessons are not a compulsory requirement of the Queensland school curriculum.

It is encouraged and subsidised at the school's discretion, but ultimately Queensland children do not have to participate in school swim programs as far as the State Government is concerned. It's something News Corp newspapers are campaigning to change.

School swimming is part of the curriculum at a handful of Whitsunday schools, who have at their own discretion allocated government grants to make the exercise an affordable one for parents.

The gap parents pay for the school swim programs at Proserpine and Cannonvale state primary schools is on average the price of the bus fare to and from the pool and is included in fees at the start of the term.

"Proserpine State School has a really good program and it is good how it's paid for in full at the start of the year,” Mrs Stefani said.

She said the close call with son Nick at four years old was what led to her ensuring all three of her children were taught swimming.

"It scared him away from the water for a bit, but he loves it now,” Mrs Stefani said, adding her three water babies loved their school and private swimming lessons.

Learn to swim coordinator and instructor for Splash Pool Services Sharanne Maclean has taught Whitsundays children at the Proserpine pool for the past five years and strongly believes swim safety is a necessity within the the school curriculum.

Mrs Maclean believes it is very important for Queensland children to get in the water and be confident and believes "water safety and learning to swim is a life skill that should be encouraged”.

"Drownings are preventable, anything to minimise those risks can only be a good thing,” she said.

Proserpine parents are ahead of the game in ensuring their children are water aware, despite Queensland regulations falling short to ensure water safety benchmarks are set as part of the school curriculum.

Sonya Quod enrolled her two daughters Arista and Mahli in lessons from the age of two, as she "felt it was imperative that they learnt to swim”.

Living in Australia, Mrs Quod said she saw swimming lessons as "part of growing up and being a kid”.

Proserpine State Primary School teacher Mellisa Jones said her students undertook swimming lessons twice a year (in terms one and four) and assumed it was a compulsory part of all state schools' curriculum.

"I think we have a bit of an assumption that because we live in Queensland that parents will ensure that their children learn how to swim, but we are finding that is not the case we've got a lot of non-swimmers in grade one,” Ms Jones said.

Mother of three Sarah Norris travels from Bloomsbury to the Proserpine pool twice a week for her kids' swimming lessons on top of the school's swim program.

"I definitely agree it should be compulsory; it's worth the money,” she said.

Jenna Phillips home schools children Emily Egglestone, 9 and Rex Egglestone, 7 and ensures that swimming lessons are part of their learning, despite being unsure if the lessons will be subsidised by the government.

A scare at the Airlie Beach Lagoon five years ago led Ms Phillips to ensure her children participated in swimming lessons.

"It was more about the life skills and water safety, not so much the swimming technique they learn”.