Legendary Aussie Swim Coach Laurie Lawrence Calls On Victoria To Open All Pools To Save Kids Lives 

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OPEN THE POOLS: Australia's "Mr Learn To Swim" Laurie Lawrence calls on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to open up Victorian pools. Photos Courtesy: Kids Alive.

Legendary Aussie Swim Coach Laurie Lawrence Calls On Victoria To Open All Pools To Save Kids Lives 

Australia’s passionate learn-to-swim advocate Laurie Lawrence has joined the flight to breathe life into a drowning Victorian aquatics industry.

Lawrence and the Director of Learn To Swim Victoria, Joanne Love are afraid that if pools throughout the pandemic stricken State (and not just in regional Victoria) are not given the green light to re-open it will put kids lives at risk.

Lawrence has told Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper that he fears COVID-19 lockdowns will lead to a spike in summer drownings with Australian kids missing out on valuable lifesaving swimming lessons.

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TIME TO SWIM: Time to open up Victoria’s ailing aquatics Industry. Photo Courtesy: Swim Australia.

The Herald Sun has reported that the legendary Olympic coach and the founder of Kids Alive safety program is now calling on Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews to re-open swimming schools as soon as possible arguing “COVID doesn’t spread in chlorinated water and that with the right measures swimming was COVID safe.”

And Ms Love, also one of Australia’s most respected swimming coaches and teachers, and a Board Member of the Australian Swimming Teachers and Coaches Association (ASCTA) believes she has also uncovered a solution.

Swimming World can reveal that Ms Love conducted a literature study on the relationship between swimming pools and COVID-19 which has been published on Australian websites and social media sites.

The Bachelor of Psychological Science and Business, who holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and has been an industry leader is also leading the fight to see all pools re-open and Victorians back in the water.

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NEEDING SOME LOVE: Director of Learn To Swim Victoria Joanne Love leading the charge to re-open Victoria’s pools. Photo Courtesy: Learn To Swim Victoria.

Supported by some compelling evidence, Ms Love is also calling on the Andrews Government to ease restrictions, saying swim squad training and Learn To Swim classes can be conducted safely and in a controlled manner, convinced it will assist not only the health and well-being of Victorians but the whole economy as well.

Love’s report focused on three areas:

  1. COVID-19’s persistence/survival/removal in water;
  2. Humidity as a factor in reducing COVID-19 transmission; and
  3. Environmental factors.

 

 

 

The report reveals that swimming pools are one of the safest sporting environments, saying COVID-19 has low stability water, with little or no chance to cause infection in pool water as it is incredibly susceptible to Chlorine, Ozone and UVC.

It says that the maintenance of controlled humidity and temperature play a role in the inactivation of COVID-19 and indoor structured programs provide a safe, sporting environment.

It is recommended that indoor pools be re-opened at the same time as outdoor pools, due to superior control of water quality, air temperature, humidity and supervision of clients. It’s also arguably more feasible and financially viable for an indoor pool to open in September and October due to climate.

Swim schools across Australia are now working with Poolwerx and Lawrence’s Kids Alive program to offer free swimming lessons to under-5s for Learn2Swim Week.

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TAKING THE PLUNGE: Time to start saving lives. Photo Courtesy: Kids Alive.

Swim schools in lockdown areas such as Victoria are also offering vouchers for up to 12 months.

Lawrence  said in its seven years of operation the program has never been more important than now.

“This year I think it’s going to be a bigger drowning season because of COVID, everyone has been locked up, kids haven’t been getting their swimming lessons,”Lawrence told the Herald Sun.

“It’s amazing what you can teach little kids in a week. They learn respect for the water because they start to know the difference between deep and shallow water.

“They learn through experience that ‘I can’t hold my breathe for longer than 10 seconds’, ‘I better get back to the side’ or ‘I can’t swim without an adult’.”

“I believe that the Victorian Government should be opening up all the pools down there in Victoria, because you can’t get COVID in chlorinated water, so if you’ve got the right plan, the kids have got to be in the water swimming,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence has encouraged all families to “Get out there, get your voucher if you are in Victoria, and a message for the State Government to “open up the pools and let Victoria start making your children healthier and safer.”

And it comes with the Life Saving Victoria revelation that drownings in Victoria have risen 300 percent in the COVID lockdown over the past three months – greater than the five year average.

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STAYING ALIVE: Laurie Lawrence passionate about Kids Alive. Photo Courtesy: Laurie Lawrence.

“It’s time to open the pools..enough is enough,” said Lawrence as he launched National Learn To Swim Week (September 25-October 4).

“We have to have the pools open in Victoria – and I encourage all the mums and dads to get your free voucher and be ready to get that first lesson under way when the pools are open.”

Love, Director of Learn To Swim Victoria and an industry leader, said it was an industry screaming for help.

“But our cries for help need attention and urgent, immediate action from State and Federal Governments,” said Love.

“This is a serious industry, an often undervalued industry, especially in a country like Australia where swimming and water safety skills are essential.

“All aquatic staff from teachers to lifeguards and swim coaches have made many Australians proud and saved innumerable lives.

“We directly contribute to health and community benefits of an estimated value of $2.8 billion per year.

“It is estimated  that $900 milion in revenue, $450 milion in wages will be lost this year.

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DOING THE FIVE: Laurie Lawrence doing the 5. Photo Courtesy: Kids Alive.

“Summer is just around the corner and so many Victorian youngsters will not get the chance to resume or begin their vital, life saving lessons.

“We desperately need our Swim Schools to be ready to open their doors when the green light is given but they have lost all of their business and now won’t survive without vital government funding.

“It is such an important part of Australia’s culture and psyche that will suffer greatly from this pandemic.”

Ms Love has already made it clear to Victorian politicians that The Swim Industry is the hardest-hit sector as a result of the COVID restrictions.

“It is an industry that can’t ‘pivot’ to serve takeaways like hotels and coffee shops, provide online sales or training like many gym operators,” said Love.

“In fact, zero income has been a way of life for many operators since mid-February, when parents started to remove their children as the looming threat rose.

“Yet, the crippling excessive operating costs continued, including colossal electricity, gas and water bills, amounting to thousands of dollars each month with no relief from utility companies.

“The swim industry has received no State or Federal Government relief; to the contrary, many operators are still fighting for even the most minuscule of assistance, such as the $10k Small Business Grant.”

Pool operators are also investigating the use of various proven technology platforms to collect contact tracing data for anyone participating in swimming activities, one which is being successfully used in Queensland.

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ECONOMIC MUST: ASCTA CEO Brendon Ward wants a lifeline for Swim Schools. Photo Courtesy: ASCTA.

When approached, ASCTA CEO Brendon Ward emphasised the importance of pools reopening on the local economy stating that the vast majority of swimming coaches, teachers and swim school owners hadn’t received any income since March 2020.

“Many swim schools and swimming clubs were not eligible for funding under Australia’s JobKeeper program and unlike many other industries, learn to swim is unable to pivot or leverage off other revenue opportunities,” Mr Ward said.

“At the same time, swim schools have continued to shell out exorbitant costs for rent, energy and water costs to maintain their facilities.

“We believe pools can re-open in a safe and financially viable way. The wellbeing of staff and customers is paramount. It’s inherent in our business model of teaching people water safety and how to swim.

“The literature review validates what those in the industry already know – our environment is clean and safe.”

Ms Love quoted an Italian consensus document on “Swimming Pool Safety And Prevention At The Time Of Covid-19” which concluded that: “The long established expertise of swimming pool operators in managing safety issues through conventional procedures, dedicated paths, regulations, technologies for disinfection and treatment of water, environmental sanitisation and acquired good practices, leads to consider that swimming pools are amongst the most prepared and safe facilities to reopen and recover sport and physical activities, assuring continuity to safety management.”

 

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