Swim coaches in safety plea

The Royal Life Saving Society’s report revealed 46 people drowned in WA in the past financial year, compared to 29 the year before.

Eight children under the age of five drowned, with half of those occurring in swimming pools.

Nationally, there was a sharp increase in the number of drownings of people aged 55 and over.

Olympian Bill Kirby, who runs swimming school Kirby Swim, said the report was damning.

‘It is pretty dreadful results for WA,’ he said.

‘There needs to be a concerted effort to reduce preventable drownings. Parents need to ensure their backyard pool is meeting the safety requirements.

‘I would encourage parents to be aware of the importance of adult supervision, and not just assume their child is safe in the water because they can swim.’

In the aftermath of the report, Mr Kirby met with legendary Australian swimming coach and Laurie Lawrence, who has been a pioneer in the prevention of child drowning deaths in Australia since the 1980s.

Mr Kirby, an Olympic gold medallist, believed the current ‘Kids Alive do the Five’ water safety message needed rejuvenation.

‘The campaign is now older and not at the front of everyone’s mind,’ he said.

‘Laurie Lawrence is keen to introduce a new swim safer campaign. Preparing an awareness program for kindergarten students has been mooted.’