Older adults plunge into water safety

  • Date: 07 June 2019
  • Category: News
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Can you do what you used to do?

This is the question eight YMCA Victoria managed aquatic centres are asking their members for the Older Adults Water Safety Awareness series throughout June as part of the Play It Safe By the Water campaign.

Adults aged between 45 - 64 years have the highest age-specific fatal drowning rate in Victoria. On average every year there are 10 drowning deaths and 11 non-fatal drowning incidents requiring hospitalisation in this age group. Males in this age category are particularly at risk, representing 19% of Victoria’s drowning deaths.

Despite this, research shows that older adults perceive themselves as a low risk group while the reality is quite different. 

This series aims to increase public awareness by testing water safety skills while having fun in the pool.

The Older Adults Water Safety Awareness series runs for 20 minutes and includes water safety education and pool activity led by YMCA Swimming and Water Safety Teachers and Lifeguards. Participants will try basic key personal survival techniques like treading water and floating. It is followed by morning tea where participants will share their thoughts on how they felt testing out those skills again.

YMCA Aquatic Specialist Janelle Falkingham said the series has the potential to save lives.

“This group has the highest age-specific fatal drowning rate. We know that with age, fitness declines and reactions slow. You need to be aware of your current swimming ability and never underestimate the risks involved,” she said.

Janelle said the class was welcome to all members who wanted to test their current skills, while looking at ways to build on them.

“This is a fantastic and practical series that gives people the chance to check in, honestly ask ‘how am I doing?’ in a friendly and non-judgemental space,” she said.

Participating centres include Ashburton Pool and Recreation Centre, Noble Park Aquatic Centre, Casey ARC, Casey RACE, Coburg Leisure Centre, Wangaratta Indoor Sports and Recreation Centre. Northcote Aquatic Recreation Centre, Benalla Aquatic Centre and Hawthorn Aquatic and Leisure Centre.

The sessions will act as introduction to water safety education and a gentle reminder that ongoing involvement in water based activity requires the knowledge and skills to continue to stay safe in and around the water. Participants will be highly encouraged to enrol themselves in a program such as the Grey Medallion program or YMCA Swimming Lessons to continue their learning.

Play It Safe By The Water campaign is in its 20th year and has seen a 46% decrease in the fatal drowning rate of Victorians since the start of the campaign.