Parents fight school’s swim carnival dive ban

Bethany Hiatt, Education EditorThe West Australian
Susan Regan with her son Joshua, Wilson Dowling, Lee Yusman, Chelsea Bradford, Azumi Yusman and Chelsea’s mother Lisa.
Camera IconSusan Regan with her son Joshua, Wilson Dowling, Lee Yusman, Chelsea Bradford, Azumi Yusman and Chelsea’s mother Lisa. Credit: David Charlesworth/Narrogin Observer

Parents of children at East Narrogin Primary School are fighting a ban on diving at their faction swimming carnival.

The school says diving is unsafe because the indoor pool it plans to use for the event next week is only 1.4m deep and not all students are competent divers.

But two other local schools holding swimming carnivals at the same pool, Narrogin Primary and St Matthew’s schools, will let students choose between diving in or starting in the water.

Writing in East Narrogin’s newsletter, principal Helen Fiebig said rules were modified for many sports to “maximise a fair playing field for various levels of ability”.

“With that in mind I will be continuing with the format that was used last year and have all races start with children in the water and no child will be permitted to do tumble turns,” Ms Fiebig said. “I am confident that this safety-first approach will be appreciated by all parents.”

Lisa Bradford, whose daughter Chelsea is in Year 5 at the East Narrogin school, said parents were lobbying for children to have the option to dive from the pool deck — not the blocks.

“We are asking for equal rights for our children in the same town,” she said. “Guidelines say it is safe to dive as long as the water is 1.2m or deeper.”

Mark Regan, whose son Josh is a Year 6 student at the school, said the “nanny state policy” discriminated against good swimmers.

“Are running races going to be turned into walking races because some people might fall down when they run?” he said.

VideoThere has been a spike in enrolments for the Royal Life Saving Society WA’s Swim and Survive Access and Equity program.

Education Department Statewide services executive director Lindsay Hale said schools had to consider students’ abilities and pool depth.

“In this case, the pool is quite shallow and many students are not yet at the skill level to dive in to start their race,” Mr Hale said.

But he conceded that Narrogin’s other public school would allow pupils to dive, with parental consent.

“It is up to each school to decide how swimming carnivals are organised and whether diving is permitted,” he said.

“Narrogin PS considers there are sufficient students with the confidence and skill to dive.”

Catholic Education WA executive director Tim McDonald said St Matthew’s School had decided, after significant consultation and reviews, to allow students to take part in swimming activities involving diving.

“St Matthew’s School has established guidelines to ensure the safest environment for students participating in school swimming events, as well as to allow for a fair introduction to competitive swimming,” he said.

Sport and Recreation Minister Mia Davies last week told a parents’ forum of her concerns that a country school had banned students from diving instead of teaching them to do it safely.

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