“We are a school – not a gym” – Lesley Rudd & Tara Hanias
RE: Learn to Swim classification for restrictions directive in South Australia
We write to respectfully request your urgent review of the COVID-19 restrictions that are being applied to the Learn to Swim Industry in South Australia and the inconsistent application of these restrictions. We request that Learn to swim programs are not grouped in with fitness nor sport, but as a critical education requirement to prevent drownings.
We differentiate from the fitness industry in many ways. Our class sizes are small mostly 3 to 4 children, activity is controlled by qualified teachers and children work in rotations in allocated lanes. We have modified our practice to incorporate all covid-19 guidelines. Our pools are chlorinated with additional UV and Ozone sanitization. Our air is heated and rises to be extracted by mechanical ventilation to turn over the air. World Health Organisation states the virus is killed in chlorine and leads us to believe our environment is many times safer than indoor fitness centres.
From the previous 3-day circuit breaker in November 2020 where Learn to swim was shut down for 2 weeks we experienced staff losses due to no income so close to Christmas and sadly we are struggling to replace these very experience team members. We employ 45 staff and provide 2000 lessons per week educating our local community in water safety and survival. Following the 2 lockdowns many of our young children experienced regression in their skills due to short term memory and so many required remedial work to rebuild. This is the critical issue we face as educators for our young swimmers. To prevent a drowning and save lives our children need to learn to swim. We are a school – not a gym.
We seek this clarity in the impending restrictions to allow the aquatics industry to deliver our critical programs not only for the public of South Australia but for our business to survive. A 1:8 square metre restriction is untenable for our family-owned business to open our doors. Our position and belief is that we can operate in a safer and controlled manner at the restrictions placed on schools.
We appreciate these are complex and troubling times and that it is difficult to summarise and define all activities. However, with schools returning, we think it imperative and critical that these same children also be allowed to undertake their aquatic education to prevent elevated drowning statistics as shown in Victoria.
On behalf of a significant industry here in South Australia we would like to thank you in advance for considering this important distinction and would be more than happy to answer any further questions or concerns on this matter.
Lesley Rudd – Owner/Founder Blue Dolphin Swim Centre
Tara Hanias – Director/Owner Blue Dolphin Swim Centre