Swim school teaches flood safety tips
KEEP your head above water and your baby from drowning while wading, fully clothed, through fast-moving floodwater.
That's the challenge set by a Sunshine Coast swim school as it teaches its students and their parents techniques for surviving in waterways.
While people should never choose to swim in floodwaters, Sunshine Coast Swimming Academy co-director Kym Clift says water safety does need to include waterway safety as well as the traditional beach focus.
"The latest Royal Life Saving Drowning Report, which came out last year, (shows) there are actually more drownings in waterways such as creeks and lakes and rivers...than...at the beach," she said.
The dangers of floodwaters were recently brought into sharp focus by the Townsville floods, which claimed the lives of two men.
"Just like floodwaters, rivers have strong currents - rivers have sticks and branches and rocks and stuff in the bottom," she said.
The swim school simulated these natural environments by placing gym equipment in the pools, attaching material that acts as a seaweed-like obstacle.
Pools were filled with kickboards, pool noodles and other floating objects to make it difficult for students to move easily, and currents were created by parents running around the inside perimeter in circles.
Part of the water safety lessons were to help people overcome the initial shock and not panic if they have to swim fully clothed, Ms Clift said.
"If the situation arises and they do fall in, it's (the training is) so they can not freak out," she said.
"Once they've done it a couple of times it's fun."
Krysty Idle's daughter Charlotte, 3, swam in her pyjamas and found it "weird".
"It made me realise that if she did fall in she'd be a bit floundered," Ms Idle said.
"She sorted herself out after a while and got used to it, she realised all the other kids were doing the same thing."
Charlotte started swimming lessons as a four-month-old baby and since 18 months old has swum confidently enough to do the classes without a parent in the pool.
Makayla McPherson's daughter Ruby, 4, was among more than 120 students to participate.
"It's a really good idea to learn to swim without their caps and goggles and everything on," Miss McPherson said.
"It is a bit scary to think - but you can't help but think, 'what if something like that happens to me?'"
Six months ago Ruby wasn't swimming at all, but since bringing her to the Academy Miss McPherson said she "can't get her out of the water".
"They've really helped her," she said.