When learn-to-swim classes ramp-up as COVID-19 restrictions ease, parents are being urged to not only support local businesses, but potentially save children’s lives.
Swimtikes Family Swim School owner Liz Corr is worried there could be a spike in drownings this summer, with many littlies unable to continue learn-to-swim classes due to the coronavirus shutdown.
She wants parents to make sure their children return to the pool or enrol in classes as soon as possible, so they develop skills that could save their lives.
“There’s a concern that drowning statistics are going up. Data coming out of states like Florida is already showing that their drowning statistics are up 75% or more from last year because children aren’t practicing this life skill on a regular basis,” Liz says.
“The fear is that Australia could be in for a horrific summer of drowning fatalities. We want to get back to normal as soon as possible so we can reduce the chance of that happening in Australia.”
Some larger swim schools have reopened, under the stage two easing of restrictions, but many smaller ones like Swimtikes will wait for stage three.
Liz says this stage of the easing of restrictions is slated for July 10, but most operators like herself will wait until at least July 13 to reopen.
It’s not financially-viable for them to open under stage two, with restrictions limiting the number of adults permitted in swimming pools, change rooms and other shared spaces.
“Obviously, we were like so many others … that press conference on the Sunday night … we had until noon the next day to close,” Liz explains.
“It created an instant cash flow problem for us, and we still had our overheads and utilities and staff costs.”
Liz says they had to stand down four staff straight away and draw on savings to keep going.
“We had four staff uncertain of their future. We’re very family and community orientated, so that was tough.”
The pool was also a community hub for mums and babies and she knows many are missing that social connection with the friends they’ve made there.
It’s been a difficult situation to explain to young children who don’t understand why they can’t go swimming with their friends.
“A lot of our business is under-5s. They’re too young to understand it,” she says.
The shutdown has also affected suppliers, particularly those of goggles and kickboards.
Liz is looking forward to reopening, welcoming the swim school’s families and staff back and rebuilding her business.
For her and her little tikes, it’s about so much more than swimming.