High Achievers - Splash Swim School Griffith Regional Aquatic and Leisure Centre
Vanessa Lanza from the Griffith Regional Aquatic and Leisure Centre teaches kids to swim. With team leaders Marg and Corinne and a crew of 30 swim instructors and three squad coaches, they constitute the Splash Swim School, this month’s LG Focus High Achiever - Team.
The Splash Swim School was recently named winner of the National SwimSAFER Award for their contribution to school and indigenous swimming from a field of over 600 contestants.
The award was in recognition of the work that Splash Swim School does to provide lessons to children who would otherwise not have access to them.
Griffith, in the Riverina district of southwest New South Wales, was built on the traditional land of the Wiradjuri people. The city and the surrounding, predominantly rural region were developed with the onset of irrigation by soldier settlers and later on by Italian migrants.
Today, Griffith is the centre for the vast Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, one of the most diverse and productive regions in Australia contributing over $5 billion annually to the national economy.
In many regional centres community sporting and recreational facilities provide more than the bricks and mortar value to the residents and the Griffith Regional Aquatic Leisure Centre is such a place.
Ms Lanza, Swim School Coordinator, said, “We offer to all local and surrounding Primary Schools a ‘School Swimming and Water Safety Program’.
However, the Splash Swim School offers their program with a difference.
The program was developed to meet all industry standards but is delivered at half the cost of normal swimming lessons to give access to children who may not be able to afford lessons. There is an important focus on water safety, survival and swimming skills, but the team is passionate about providing access to all.
“It is important that children learn not only how to swim but how to survive and stay safe in the water.
“At the end of the program each child receives a certificate which shows what they have achieved during this time.”
The schools bring in groups of around 50 children requiring a team of seven swim instructors and an on deck supervisor (ASO) to deliver the program.
“Together they help children who have a fear of the water, they develop swimming strokes and focus on water safety,” Ms Lanza said.
“The swim school coordinator may do the administration and promotion of the program but it is the swim instructors that successfully deliver the program to the children.”
As coordinator, Ms Lanza sources funding to help indigenous and low income families be able to participate in this program.
“This has allowed children to participate in swimming lessons with support from their school and the funding. Without this funding they would not have access to lessons.
“The instructors also donate old swim wear, goggles and towels so we can use them for children that cannot afford their own.
“The biggest challenge is being able to offer this program to every student, even those that cannot afford it. Funding isn’t always available.
“Programs such as this should be subsidised by the government to allow low income families the same opportunity to lean to swim.
Ms Lanza said that working for Griffith City Council has allowed her to attend Industry conferences (such as AUSTSWIM and Swim Australia), where she has been able to network with the elite of the industry, to get her name into the public arena which has lead to more funding opportunities for the School Swimming and Water Safety Program.
Ms Lanza said, “Splash Swim School was honoured to receive the national award from Swim Australia this year for the School Swimming and Water Safety Program.
“At Splash Swim School we strive to deliver the highest quality of swimming and water safety programs to children of all ages and abilities.
“To conduct lessons in a fun, safe environment in a professional and efficient manner.
“We are passionate about providing swimming education, a core life skill, to the community.”