Representatives of SD 69, the RDN, DPAC and Lifesaving Society BC hold a cheque to pay for the Swim to Survive+ program that took place within the school district for the first time this year. — Submitted by the RDN

287 students now safer in the water

SD 69 introduces new swimming program aimed at saving lives

Ocean swimming can be fun, but it can also be hazardous.

School District 69 (Qualicum) took steps to educate its Grade 7 students on how to survive an unexpected fall into deep water this year by introducing a new program called Swim to Survive+.

The program focuses on three basic skills to survive on unexpected fall into deep water.

Dale Miller, the executive director of Lifesaving Society BC, which runs the program, said those skills consist of learning to roll into deep water and then being able to orient yourself and find the surface, tread water for one minute and swim 50 metres.

Other skills taught included how to swim with clothes on, how to help a friend in deep water without putting yourself in danger, and some physical fitness concepts.

The program was taught throughout the year, with 287 Grade 7 students having received the training in SD69.

“The safety of our students is of paramount importance and we believe that this research-based program has helped to ensure that our students will be better prepared to make wise choices and respond appropriately to emergencies when enjoying all that West Coast outdoor life has to offer,” said Rollie Koop, superintendent for SD69, in a news release.

The district got wind of the program after a proponent made a presentation to both the school board and the parents advisory council, said Koop.

“We both said, ‘Yeah, this really seems like a great idea.’”

On June 16, the Lifesaving Society presented a cheque for $6,453 to the Regional District of Nanaimo and SD69 to support the cost of the program.

“The grant is administered by the Lifesaving Society, and made possible by funding partners, the Province of British Columbia, RBC, Telus and the Recreation Foundation of B.C.,” according to the news release.

In the past year, the program ran in 25 school districts in B.C., said Miller.