Monday, November 9, 2009

Australian Good Ideas: #5 Swim Class in Public School

Michele: It is Term 4 at Mission Beach State School and that means it is time for swim classes. I can't say if every school in Australia has swim classes, but many primary schools in far north Queensland have swim classes for all students. What a great idea!

Australians are pretty serious about the sport of swimming. This is manifest in the number of Olympic medals Aussies have earned. The Aussies have earned more Olympic medals per capita than any other country. This reflects both their athleticism and their savvy. While sports like gymnastics only have a handful of medals available, the crafty Aussies figured out that swimming has an insane variety of events each of which gets a medal. There is the 100m back stroke, the 200 m individual medley and the 50m hold yer nose and dog paddle. Having figured this out, Aussies have invested wisely in teaching Aussie children to swim. It also comes in handy because most of the population lives near the sea.

At Mission Beach State School grades 4-7 take a bus to the big pool in Tully (25 km away) while the lower grades walk to the pool at the Tropical Hibiscus Caravan Park around the corner form the school. The walk is not long but it does have a very significant effect on the children. Shoes are required on swimming days. At our house on Tuesdays gleeful shouts of "Yay, swimming today!" are quickly followed by groans "Oh man! We gotta wear shoes." This is how life's lessons are learned.

We are lucky to have a swimming pool at our house, so Robin and Will have had lots and lots of swimming practice over the past 4 months. It has been awesome to watch their swimming skills grow. In July they were both very unconfident dog paddlers and now they swim and cavort in deep water with ease. This alone has made our Aussie adventure worthwhile.

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