ACT News

Canberra high school introduces lifesaving competition for students

Calwell High School has become the first school in the ACT to provide lifesaving events at their swimming carnival in a bid to increase water safety.

On Friday afternoon, students at the school practiced rope throw rescues, towing manikins and lifeguard tubes as well as swimming with fins.

Royal Life Saving ACT training manager Ben Cuttriss instruct Calwell High School students Kirralee- Rose Schofield, year ...
Royal Life Saving ACT training manager Ben Cuttriss instruct Calwell High School students Kirralee- Rose Schofield, year 10, Nia Cavanagh, year 7, and Lauren Smith, year 10, on the manikin tow during the school's swimming carnival at the Canberra Olympic Pool. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Royal Life Saving ACT director Cherry O'Connor said the initiative was an important way to counter the decreasing number of students enrolling in school swimming.

"By introducing high school students to fun pool lifesaving activities we are instilling knowledge and awareness for basic survival and rescue techniques that may not have been offered in earlier life stages," she said.

Ms O'Conner said the school was the first in the ACT to cater for students who were not confident enough to enter swimming events but still enjoyed competition with classmates.

The school program comes after the formation of an ACT representative lifesaving team and the launch of a new lifesaving club last year.

The ACT team placed fourth overall in the Australian Pool Life Saving Championship in Hobart in January, with Olivia Columb winning gold in the women's open line throw event.

Joy Terry, a physical education teacher at Calwell High School, said the program boosted the confidence of students while also encouraging  safe practices.

"The balance of fun and safety is paramount for our high school students as they gain independence and spend more and more time away from their parents," she said

"There is less supervision in their teenage years and a higher expectation for them to be able to handle themselves in certain situations."

Ms Terry said the lifesaving events were well received by the students who were engaged in the activities and determined to raise points for their house.

"We introduced these activities so young people could see that there were other types of swimming events that they could be involved in other than simply doing laps," she said.

"It really brought everyone back to being a more equal in the pool and it was all in good fun and relevant to swimming and lifesaving."

Ms Terry said there were around 160 participants in the swimming carnival which was significantly more than in previous years, with about  50 students taking part in the manikin towing event.

Ms O'Connor said she hoped the swimming carnival would generate new interest in lifesaving and encourage more children to engage in swimming.

"The lack of participation in school swimming activities is affecting general swimming abilities across the nation's capital for school aged students," she said.