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Watch Charlie the penguin learn to swim at Sydney Sea Life Aquarium

Given the species is famous for its underwater abilities, it seems absurd that a penguin would need swimming lessons.

Three-month-old Charlie the gentoo penguin, though, has just begun her poolside education having this month jumped into the Sydney Sea Life Aquarium waters for the first time.

"She's just undergone a process called fledging, and that is where they replaced their soft, fluffy chick feathers with their adult feathers, the sleek black and white ones," said penguin keeper Patrick Nelson.

"Importantly, these are waterproof, which allow her to swim with the rest of the colony."

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Gentoo penguins are known to be the fastest underwater swimming bird in the world, so within the next few weeks and months Charlie will likely be swimming up to 36 km/hour.

Far from achieving her top speed at the moment, her first experience in the water went off, well, swimmingly, Mr Nelson said.

"She was a little nervous, a little apprehensive, but that's to be expected.

"It's a scary world out there, but I have no doubt that she'll be a great swimmer in no time. Both her parents were, so we expect great things," he said.

The gentoo penguin is one of 18 different species in the world. Of those, 12 different species of penguins - including the gentoo - are endangered.

Charlie forms part of a breeding program addressing the worldwide shortage in penguin species. Her ability to acclimatise to the water appropriately will help the program toward further success.

"So next, in terms of swimming, the next step is to learn how to eat underwater. After that, she will be a fully fledged independent penguin," Mr Nelson said.

This story Why Charlie the penguin chick needs swimming lessons first appeared on Newcastle Herald.