Students Share Swim Stories

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Building sandcastles by the sea; chasing the waves as they crash on the beach and run up the sand; being chased down by mum as she tries to slip, slop and slap you on a 40 degree summer day – these all paint classic Australian memories from our childhood. But not everyone can connect to the same feelings of nostalgia.

For many people, the thought of being near water can stir fear and anxiety. While some of us have nightmares of an unlikely shark bite, others dread the moment their feet can’t touch the ground anymore and they are fully submerged in the ocean. We are a nation that strongly encourages and drills in the art of learning to swim from an adolescent age with swimming a sport Australia takes great pride in, but not everyone is privileged to the same exposure of the necessary life skill.

But just because you are an adult, it’s never too late to put on the floaties. Taking the plunge into swimming later in life brings all kinds of benefits and gives people the confidence to take advantage of those hot summer days, or even just go near the water.

This is what SUSF’s Water Safe Program is all about. Giving people with little to no confidence the opportunity to learn and take that knowledge into real-life situations. Free for University of Sydney students throughout Semester 1 and 2, the program focuses on teaching basic water skills, stroke and water survival skills in a safe and welcoming environment.

“It’s very valuable because it actually teaches us how to swim,’’ said Laksshaay, who is studying a Master of Economics.

“We don’t have any experience and are all beginners. I can really tell the difference in my ability and see how much I’ve progressed and improved. We learn freestyle, how to float on our back and front, kicking and breathing techniques and how to do it all properly.’’

Lakshaay’s sentiment was echoed by his peers who were highly impressed with the program instructors’ attention to detail and patience.

“They teach us all the skills and techniques to learn how to swim in a comfortable environment and the teacher is always very attentive. The training is very personalised, she (the trainer) always focuses on each of our skills individually,’’ Master of Data Science student Gabriella said.

“I learned to get more comfortable with the kicking aspect of swimming, with the pace of the breath and the rhythm we have to keep with each style.’’

Another student, Kudakwashe agreed.

“I came into the program with zero swimming ability, so actually being in a position where I can safely swim and feel comfortable doing so is the best part of the program. The first time I started I couldn’t even breathe under water. I started with zero confidence in the water, where now I am very comfortable. I didn’t have any skills to start with so I had a huge learning curve, but now I can tread water, freestyle and everything in between.’’

While Kudakwashe, Laksshaay and Gabriella were beginners coming into the program, Water Safety classes are also available at an intermediate level. Students are encouraged to provide a self-assessment and categorise themselves so that our instructors can provide a more personalised experience.

We can’t wait for more success stories in 2021 and are thrilled at the progression some of our current students have made.