Children of Kangaroo Island learn how to swim

SWIM KI: Instructor in charge Bec Bennett with Iiesha Kuchel, Mel Holman, Josiah Bennett, Samara Golder and Holly Muecke. Photo supplied
SWIM KI: Instructor in charge Bec Bennett with Iiesha Kuchel, Mel Holman, Josiah Bennett, Samara Golder and Holly Muecke. Photo supplied

A record number of children enrolled in the Swim KI water safety awareness swimming program held at the Parndana school pool in the first week of December school holidays.

Kangaroo Island youngsters meanwhile also learned how to swim in the ocean thanks to the ongoing VACSWIM program.

Swim KI at Parndana is offered by Bec Bennett, who in her third year saw a record enrollment of 190 children aged from six month to 14 years, compared to 150 in previous years.

"Not sure if this was also due to no private swimming happening in 2020 due to fires, COVID and limited access to a heated pool," she said.

"The weather was warm at the beginning of the week but had cooled considerably by the end, which meant with the pool only being warmed by solar had dropped in temp making it a fresh start to the day.

The youngest students. Photo supplied

The youngest students. Photo supplied

Instructor Mel Holman.

Instructor Mel Holman.

Along with the Bec the instructor in charge, the other instructors this year were Mel Holman, Holly Muecke and Samara Golder, assisted by Josiah Bennett and Iiesha Kuchel.

Swim KI water safety awareness swimming program which is designed around National Swimming and Water Safety Frame work which covers, entries and exits skills, Floating and Sculling Skills, Movement and Swimming strokes, Survival and PFD Skills, Rescue Skills and Water safety knowledge.

"I have been able to contextualise the program taking into consideration our children's skills and our water environments," Bec said.

"It was a wonderful week with children as well parents learning and developing skills."

VACSWIM at Emu Bay earlier this month. Photo Kylie Velder

VACSWIM at Emu Bay earlier this month. Photo Kylie Velder

VACSWIM Program

The VACSWIM program meanwhile also saw kids this month learn how to swim in the ocean at Emu Bay, Vivonne Bay and Penneshaw.

The Surf Life Saving SA 'Surf and Survive' VACSWIM program has been delivered and enjoyed on Kangaroo Island beaches for many years. The program provides children aged 5-13 an opportunity to develop a range of skills in water safety, first aid including CPR, personal survival techniques and aquatic emergency procedures. These fundamental skills are vital for children to know, especially living in remote areas.

Last summer, bushfires devastated the island. Despite the chaos, the resilient Kangaroo Island community instructors continued to deliver this vital program. Feedback from the community was that it would be beneficial for the program to proceed, as it would boost morale and would provide the children with a sense of normality in an unfamiliar situation.

Due to the catastrophic fire danger, Vivonne Bay Vacswim had to be relocated to Emu Bay. Despite the situation, it was amazing to see so many families still attending the program at all three sites. There were 168 participants at Emu Bay, 40 participants at Penneshaw and 60 participants in the Vivonne Bay program.

Behind the scenes, Instructor in Charge, Rhana Berlin, completed a mountain of work to ensure that the three programs on Kangaroo Island were able to be delivered successfully, and went above and beyond her job description and expectations - highlighting the passion, dedication and capability of our instructors. She was in constant consultation with local authorities, the Kangaroo Island Council, Surf Life Saving SA and the Country Fire Service (CFS) Incident Management Department to ensure the safety of participants and staff. The team at Surf Life Saving SA are very proud of the resilience, commitment and poise she demonstrated.

Surf Life Saving SA will continue to facilitate the VACSWIM 'Surf and Survive' program at the three Kangaroo Island sites in January 2021: Penneshaw, Emu Bay and Vivonne Bay.

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