Life saving: Every parent and child needs to learn vital personal water safety, survival techniques and swimming from a trained and experienced professional.Summer and playing in the water go hand in hand. When temperatures soar many Aussie families head to the beach, take a dip in a backyard pool or visit a local lake or river in a bid to cool down and have some fun.

Water baby: Children should enrol in swimming lessons from around six months of age.

But has each person in your family learnt the vital, life-saving skill of swimming?

The Royal Life Saving Society 2018 National Drowning Report indicated that last year there were 249 drowning deaths and 551 people hospitalised for non-fatal drowning.

“Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death of children under five,” said Jade Hanson from AUSTSWIM, a not for profit organisation educating teachers of swimming, water safety and aquatic fitness.

“With the increase in choices for extracurricular activities, swimming lessons are not always seen as a foundation life skill. But it is essential to be armed with the knowledge and understanding of water and safety.”

Knowing how to swim is not only an important and potentially life-saving tool there are also many other advantages to enrolling in swimming lessons. These include:

Itkeeps kids active: It can improve general health and fitness, develop strong joints and build muscleYou can enrol all year round: Swimming is not a summer-only sport in fact the best way to retain the skills learnt is to keep swimming even in the winter monthsIt’s fun: It’s a great way to make friends and most teachers will incorporate elements of fun and playIt teaches perseverance: It takes more than one lesson to learn to swim so children will learn to keep trying andto not give upIt opens up many new sports: As their skill level progresses kids can tryother sports like surfing, kayaking, diving and moreChildren are encouraged to enrol in swimming lessons from around six months of age but it is never too late to learn, there’s also classes for adults.

When choosing a swim school it is important to make sure the lessons are conducted by licensed teachers (lookout for the AUSTSWIM platypus symbol), that they group lessons according to age and skill level and that they have safe teacher to student ratios.

AUSTSWIM reminds parents that irrespective of aquatic ability, children are never completely safe when in, on or around water and must be constantly supervised by an appropriately skilled person.

“Supervise by always remaining within arms reach of the child,” Jade said. “Drowning is a silent killer; it takes less than a minute for children to start drowning. That’s the time it takes to answer a phone call, the front door, put the kettle on or fill a water bottle.”