Australian swimming legend James Magnussen has been named the Ambassador for Royal Life Saving NSW’s 2019-20 Stay Safe Summer campaign.
The two-time world champion and Olympic medalist said that being properly prepared for the water during the hot summer months is crucial.
“We want everyone to enjoy our beautiful waterways this summer but it’s vital, whether you are an Olympic level swimmer or not, that you know your limitations,” Mr Magnussen said.
There were 46 drowning deaths in NSW during last summer. Rivers accounted for more than 28 per cent of the fatalities, more than beach-related incidents. Men accounted for almost 80 per cent of last summer’s fatalities, with the 45-54 age group at most risk.
Statistics show that “Blokes tend to take the most risks, so keep an eye out for your family and friends and please learn to swim, it’s a skill for life,” he added.
Across the 12 months from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019, 98 people lost their lives in the state’s waterways, with RLSNSW CEO, Michael Ilinsky, saying that the numbers don’t lie.
“It doesn’t matter where you swim, you can get in trouble in a swimming pool just as much as a dam, creek or river. We encourage everyone to enjoy our waterways but let’s do it safely by making sure of a few simple things,” said Mr Ilinsky.
- Learn to swim – it’s a skill for life
- Avoid drugs and alcohol
- Always wear a lifejacket
- Know your limitations; and
- Keep watch on your family and friends
“Of great concern to us is the significant number of people who do get into trouble and are classified as poor or non-swimmers, you have to know your limitations,” Mr Ilinsky added.
He said drowning deaths in the past five years across NSW highlighted the susceptibility of ageing Australians, multicultural groups and people swimming in regional and remote areas.
Clayton Barr MP agreed that summer is the time when most Australians loved to get out and enjoy the water.
“Our region offers fantastic waterways which everyone can enjoy” Mr Barr said. “Whether it be in our backyard swimming pools, lakes, the beach or Council pools it is important to remember to be safe in and around water.”
Chair of Parliamentary Friends of Aquatic Recreation, Roy Butler MP, has urged his fellow parliamentarians to spread the safety message within their local communities. “We have a responsibility as leaders in our communities to encourage fun but also to raise awareness of the importance of safe behaviour around our waterways,” he said.