‘Water can be dangerous. It should be treated with respect’, Olympic and Commonwealth Games medallist, Justin Norris.

Summer is approaching; the days are growing warm and with Daylight Saving, there is enough time after work for a trip to the beach or the local pool. Soon, it will be the long summer break in school; Australians will gather around waterways, beaches and pools, celebrating Christmas and the New Year. Many families will travel to new destinations, some with water features that are new and unfamiliar. Backyard swimming pools are being cleaned after the winter slumber. Now is the time for a renewed focus on a simple message: let’s make this a swim safe summer.

Be active in your child’s development that includes learning how to swim.

 

According to the Royal Life Saving Society Australia National Drowning Report, 284 Australians died in 2012 from drowning. The statistics will scare and shock: in the age range of 0-4, 21 tragedies occurred in swimming pools, bathtubs or spa baths. A staggering 62% of deaths occurred after falls into water. 

In the older age range of 5-14, there were 45 drowning deaths in 2012. These statistics do reflect the water based past times and sports Australians love: swimming, fishing, sailing and surfing. These are in our DNA. With so many Australians enjoying the perfect weather around waterways, beaches and pools, some drowning is inevitable, right? No.

Justin Norris, successful athlete and owner/manager of the Justin Norris Swim Academy believes swimming lessons should begin immediately. "Swim schools will offer lessons to children of different ages, but you really start lessons at home, or in the hospital!" While Justin is a highly respected former elite athlete, having competed at two Olympic Games, his experience as a parent is vital to his philosophy. "A good age for swim lessons is when the parents can commit. The lessons must be a constant commitment. There is no point at all to stopping and starting, especially for young children."

If you visit the Justin Norris Swim Academy website you will see his son at just 23 months old swimming! But for Justin, it is also about the basics. "The basics are important- supervision, teaching your kids the rules of the water, never going in to a pool area alone." According to Justin, in the end children are learning to swim when they are still taking risks. "Children will make childish decisions, so the best safe water practices are the usual parenting practices about any particular hazard."

 Educational Experience recommends all parents, carers and educators to be active in the learning of the life skill of swimming. Justin has some timely advice about swim lessons, "The key is the frequency of practice time." While it may be tempting to put lessons on hold during the winter or if parents are too busy, we must remember swimming is a life skill.

"Really," says Justin, "lessons can begin with something as easy as walking around the pool holding hands, making sure everyone is comfortable around water." Put simply, Justin and Educational Experience agree that kids need a lot of experience in water. It could save a life. 

Our natural environment means swimming is a life skill. 

About Justin

Justin is a dual Olympian having represented Australia in the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympics. He is an Olympic medalist in the 200 Butterfly and a finalist in the 400 Individual Medley.

Inspiration: Justin Norris, Educational Experience would like to pass on our thanks to Justin for his passion and professionalism.

In his career Justin has broken the Commonwealth and Australian records in both the 200 Butterfly and 400 Individual Medley. In Manchester, 2002, Justin won three individual Commonwealth titles in the 200 Butterfly, 200 Individual Medley and 400 Individual Medley.

Justin has also won medals at both the World Championships and World Short Course Championships. Justin spent five years at the world’s leading sports facility, The Australian Institute of Sport, where he trained with the world’s best athletes and learnt from leading coaches and sports scientists.

He and wife, Brooke, have three daughters, Sabre, Cerrus, Naz and a son, Coda.