Teach toddlers to swim, urges coach Laurie Lawrence

FREE swimming lessons for children under five will be on offer from Friday, September 25, to Sunday, October 4, at Cleveland Aquatic Centre and YMCA Victoria Point.

POOL TIME: Swim coach Laurie Lawrence and a toddler. Mr Lawrence has campaigned for years for more toddlers to be taught to swim.

POOL TIME: Swim coach Laurie Lawrence and a toddler. Mr Lawrence has campaigned for years for more toddlers to be taught to swim.

The lessons are part of the Poolwerx' Learn2Swim Week which is in its seventh year.

Ex-Olympic swimming coach and Kids Alive founder Laurie Lawrence said drowning remained the leading cause of preventable death for children under the age of five.

"It's important kids know how to handle themselves in the water," Mr Lawrence said.

"During last year's campaign, the Learn2Swim Week website received over 6200 lessons requests, which shows the message of water safety is getting through and parents are understanding how vital it is to learn to swim at an early age."

Last year, 19 children under five drowned in Australia, 12 in backyard pools.

Poolwerx representative Wayne and Lynn O'Malley of Redland Bay said toddlers were most at risk of drowning, particularly in backyards.

"This is why it is crucial to introduce kids to water safety when they are little," the O'Malleys said.

"...Australians are building 20,000 pools in their backyards every year, so Learn2Swim Week remains a really important initiative."

To find out where classes are being held visit learn2swimweek.com.