Having owned and operated quality swim schools for over 20 years, Karen Baildon has heard it all – ‘we don’t have time for swimming lessons’, ‘they’re not worth the price you pay’, ‘he just doesn’t like the water’. But with backyard drownings on the rise in Queensland, it’s never been so important to equip your child with life-saving water safety skills.

It’s something none of us want to think about, but for some parents, losing a child by drowning is a gut-wrenching reality. Which is exactly why Karen Baildon is setting out tackle the lack of drowning prevention strategies, particularly within the under 5’s age-group, herself. Through her Drowning Prevention Programs and Superfish Swim Schools, located in various spots around Brisbane and the Gold Coast, Karen hopes to equip young children with the knowledge and skills to save themselves from danger in the water.

“It seems like, no matter how much education and how many campaigns are out there, there are still so many parents who just don’t think it’s important for their children to learn how to swim,” says Karen. “By working towards independent swimming, our lessons help foster a healthy respect of aquatic environments, and teach skills that will help young children survive if they find themselves in a potentially deadly aquatic environment.”

Karen says that the best way to protect your child from drowning will always be ensuring that they receive programs with drowning prevention activities. Lessons where they learn to control and take breaths while kicking and paddling, stay horizontal while swimming or roll onto their backs to float, and look and reach for the wall, are essential to making sure they are completely competent in the pool. Start these lessons from around 6 months old to ensure confidence in the water.

“Swimming is truly a lifelong skill and is the only sport or activity that will potentially save your child’s life” says Karen. “It’s also social and a lot of fun, great for cognitive development and a good way to stay fit and healthy.”

5 skills your ‘under 5’ should have…

  1. Float by themselves for at least 30 seconds in rough water
  2. Paddle independently and roll onto their backs to float, without floaties or back bubbles
  3. Swim and lift their head to breathe, and tread water with their head up
  4. Jump safely into the pool, and paddle back to the side without help
  5. Comfortable swim while fully dressed – shoes and nappy included!




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