Subsidised learn to swim program making a splash for kids.

A ground-breaking new learn to swim program is giving some of Lake Macquarie’s most at-need kids the confidence they need to make a splash in summer.

Lake Macquarie City Council is recruiting primary schools from lower socioeconomic areas for subsidised weekly lessons, with the aim of getting students from Years 3 and 4 up to national swimming benchmarks.

Students from Wiripaang Public School at Gateshead were the first to take the plunge this week, with more than 40 children signing up for the program.

The 30-minute lessons, conducted in school time, feature a high instructor-student ratio, providing fun, high-intensity learning over the next two school terms.

Manager Leisure Services Brad Sutton said the Supported Swim program focused on building children’s confidence, ability and knowledge of water safety.

This is a fantastic, fun way to get kids in the water and reduce the risk of drowning in pools, at the beach and in other waterways,” Mr Sutton said.

The average cost of lessons in Australia is $15.50 a week, which could be considered a barrier to participation for many families who have so many other household expenses to consider.

Royal Life Saving Australia data shows children from higher socioeconomic areas start lessons earlier than those from less affluent suburbs.

Wiripaang Assistant Principal Amanda Lavercombe said few of the school’s Stage Two students had previously attended regular private swimming lessons.

With the new Personal Development, Health and Physical Education syllabus on trial this year, we saw an incredible opportunity to assist our students with improving their swimming skills,” Ms Lavercombe said.

We are aiming to have all Stage Two students in our mainstream classes attend.”

Participants will learn basic swimming and water survival skills set out in Royal Life Saving Australia’s National Swimming and Water Safety Framework.

They include safety jumps, continuous swimming, treading water, diving underwater and throwing a flotation device to assist someone in trouble.

We’ll assess each student at the start and throughout the program, with rewards on offer as they reach their goals,” Mr Sutton said.

We’re excited to keep rolling out this program across other schools in Lake Macquarie, and look forward to them signing up.”