Swimming in wild waters develops vital skills, says this Gold Coast swimming instructor – ABC News

Swimming in wild waters develops vital skills, says this Gold Coast swimming instructor
Swimming across a wide creek while navigating tides is a tough ask for most three-year-olds, but Skye Bond believes the experience could one day help save their lives.
Each year the swimming instructor helps 2,000 children, some just preschool age, cross the Gold Coast's Tallebudgera Creek, enticing them with "buried treasure" on the other bank.
It seems daunting for little arms and legs but Ms Bond said completing the journey was worth it in more ways than one.
"They [the young children] can kind of swim and kind of handle a pool," she said. 
"But in a situation like a creek or going out with an outgoing tide, [they] would not be able to save themselves."
She said navigating natural waterways safely was an important life skill, considering the higher likelihood of getting into trouble there than in a heated, chlorinated pool.
That is why she teaches it to children as young as three.
"Everyone goes, 'Oh, my kids can swim in a backyard pool' but backyard pools are a lot different to these creeks," Ms Bond said.
Gold Coast mother Bec Pirohi has seen the benefits of these lessons.
Her three-year-old, Molly, fell from a small jetty while their younger sibling was strapped to her chest. 
"I was in a huge panic because I couldn't get the baby off," she said.
Within seconds, two years of infant swimming lessons kicked in and Molly was able to save herself.
"She managed to swim her way back to the jetty and grab on so I could pull her back up. She just knew what to do," Ms Pirohi said.
A new National Swim Safer Week report has found 43 per cent of Australian families do not enrol their children in lessons because they believe they are too young to learn to swim.
Ms Pirohi urged those parents to think again.
"It basically saved her [Molly's] life," she said.
"Despite Molly looking like she is off with the fairies she has absorbed some of the information and has been able to put it into practice when it's needed."
As Ms Bond's young swimmers cross Tallebudgera Creek, they learn how to negotiate strong currents, underwater hazards, and rescue techniques. 
The lifesaver of more than 40 years said she came up with the program after too many sleepless nights. 
"It keeps me awake at night. I actually think there is an epidemic of kids who would not be able to survive," Ms Bond said.
Australia's rate of drownings rose by 20 per cent this year. Here's the experts' advice for staying safe this summer.
Like many parents within a short drive of the coast, Angie Lane takes her family and three-year-old son, Oscar, for a swim every week.
She said it was easy to overlook the dangers, which is why she enrolled her son in lessons.
"I think sometimes we get a little bit complacent when we come down here," Ms Lane said. 
"We are at a point where we are confident he can swim to the side and give us that little bit of extra time if we need [to reach him] to make sure he would survive." 
The National Swim Safer Week report found 38 per cent of parents thought swimming lessons were too expensive. 
While Ms Bond owns her own swim school, she argued there was no other sport like it.
"[Some parents think] swimming is just another thing they have to pay for but, to me, swimming is the number one. There's no other sport that saves your life," she said.
"The basic skills and knowledge for the kids to be able to play a part in keeping themselves safe [matter] as well." 
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