Learn to swim program puts students in the fast lane

10 Jul 2018
students learning to swim

International students unable to enjoy some aspects of student life because they have never been taught to swim now have access to expert instructors.

Swimming is a skill that can be almost second nature to Australians growing up near the country's many beaches, rivers and lakes.

But many of our international students have never had the opportunity to learn to swim, a disadvantage that can stop them from having a fuller student life.

UNSW’s first adult Learn to Swim Program was introduced this year to help 30 international students face their fear of water and learn the basic skills of swimming. A certified swim instructor led the classes at the UNSW Fitness and Aquatic Center.

The program came to fruition through successful collaboration between Carly Wilson, UNSW Fitness and Aquatic Centre; Michael Patoka, UNSW Colleges; Debbie Vadasz, Student Development International; and Jessica Sevealii, UNSW Foundation Studies.

It was brought together with the help of Belinda Meggitt, the Health Promotions Coordinator at UNSW Health Service, a UNSW funded program with support from UNSW Medibank Health and Wellbeing fund.

Over eight weeks the students took swimming classes and participated in workshops covering wellbeing, skin cancer prevention and beach safety. The final workshop was an interactive session hosted by volunteers from Coogee Surf Life Saving Club to provide practical tips on swimming at the beach and understanding rips, how to get help if in trouble and some basic first aid skills.

The program was well received by the international student community.

Hillary Luong-Phan, a PhD student from Vietnam and Colombo House resident, who wouldn’t go into the pool before the program, said: “From being a total beginner, I have now gained confidence and overcome my fear of water. I highly appreciate this opportunity to learn with our professional and dedicated swim instructor who patiently supported us and generously responded to individual student's learning needs. I would strongly recommend this program to other international students.”

Another program participant said the course had “given me the ability to swim at the beach, something I could never do before”.

Three more sessions are planned for 2018, with funding to cater for 90 more students. Please contact healthy@unsw.edu.au if you are interested in participating in the next term.