04 September 2009
Water Satey Guidelines logo

Table of contents

random images from Aquatic Activities on DVD soon

Section 4 - Support Resources

Appendix 2

Common Questions and Answers

Unstructured Activity

Wrist Bands

Survival Challenge (Aquatic Survival Assessment)

Excursion Venue

Extension Programs

Teacher Swimming Qualifications

Schools with Pools

 


Q: What is an 'unstructured' activity?
A The Water Safety Guidelines only apply to unstructured aquatic activities including unstructured recreational swimming, which may be incorporated in weekly swimming programs, school excursions, camps or activity/celebration days. Examples of unstructured aquatic activity:
  • 'celebration' or 'reward days' either for individual classes or the whole school
  • 'free' swimming as part of an excursion
  • 'free' swimming incorporated in a school swimming carnival
  • 'free' swimming or pool play at a school camp
  • 'free' swimming in a weekly school sport program
Q Does 'The Challenge' need to be completed prior to a swimming carnival?
A No. A swimming carnival is a structured event.
Q Are learn-to-swim programs unstructured activities?
A No. These programs take place with teachers and instructors allocated to specific groups of students and are therefore structured aquatic activities.
Q Will this affect swimming carnivals where free swimming and novelty events are planned to occur?
A Yes, the free swimming component is an unstructured activity and requires assessment of swimming proficiency against the Water Survival Challenge criteria. Where possible this assessment should be completed prior to the carnival.
Novelties events are regarded as structured activity with specific supervision and planned events in controlled areas of the pool complex. The elementary nature of novelty events will usually allow non-swimmers to be involved.
Q What about recreational swimming regularly conducted as part of secondary sports program?
A All students requesting involvement in a recreational swimming program where 'free' or unstructured activity is an element must be assessed prior to commencement of the program. If this type of activity is a regular event, non-swimmers are not to be included.
This group is selected as per other school sports, according to ability, experience etc, so there is a requirement that students are able to swim.

Wrist Bands

Q Do the wrist bands need to be blue (swimmer) and yellow (non-swimmer)?
A Yes. We need to ensure that there is a consistent application of this policy between schools and across school education sectors. Catholic and Independent schools will also follow this policy.
Q What situations require using bands?
A Unstructured/fun/celebration/reward days.
Q All students in my planned activity are non-swimmers. Do these students have to apply wrist bands?
A If there are no other groups or schools at the venue, there is no requirement to use wrist bands.
Where other school groups are attending, students must wear wrist bands.
Q When do we apply the bands?
A If parents have advised that their child is a non-swimmer, the wrist bands are applied prior to entry to the aquatic venue if they intend to enter the water. All other students with permission are to participate in 'The Challenge'. Wrist bands are to be applied to the students immediately after they complete 'The Challenge'.
Q Why aren't wrist bands re-usable?
A Wrist bands are designed for one use only. Re-usable bands are easy to remove. If the wrist bands are able to be removed without difficulty, there is a reasonable chance that students could swap or discard the band during the aquatic activity.
Q Why are all students required to wear wrist bands?
A Identification of swimmers and non-swimmers.
Q What about Year 7 Swim and Survive classes that are usually conducted late Term 4 each year and operate over five to 10 days?
A These activities are structured events with teachers allocated specifically to tuition groups.
Q Where do we get the yellow and blue wrist bands?
A Local suppliers or through Royal Life Saving at http://www.royalnsw.com.au 
Q Why not use wrist bands made of rubber?
A Rubber can cause a skin rash, are more expensive and not deemed to be a one-off disposable item.

Survival Challenge (Aquatic Survival Assessment)

Q Can I undertake 'The Challenge' in open water such as a lake or river?
A It is preferable that 'The Challenge' be completed in a swimming pool. If there are no alternatives, open water venues may be used upon consultation with local authorities.
Q How often are students required to demonstrate proficiency against 'The Challenge'?
A Aquatic proficiency (skills) can deteriorate if not practised on a regular basis. It is therefore recommended that students undertake 'The Challenge' prior to the first unstructured activity during the school year. Additional assessment against 'The Challenge' criteria should occur if previous assessment exceeds two school terms.
Q What about school camps?
A NSW Sport and Recreation camps can conduct ' The Challenge' and provide appropriate pool supervision staff and alternate activities for non participants. Schools should check with alternative camp operators regarding their arrangements.
Q How do we deal with new enrolments?
A It is recommended that schools do not accept any evidence (certificate or record of proficiency) provided by another school, or swim coach or any other organsition or agency. New enrolments that have arrived at the school after 'The Challenge' has been completed should be assessed against 'The Challenge' prior to participating in any future unstructured aquatic activity.
Q Is re-testing allowed?
A Yes. They may have been undertaking learn-to-swim activities, which have increased their proficiency levels.
Q Is 'The Challenge' reliant on any resources?
A The aquatic co-ordinator in charge must ensure that appropriate rescue equipment, such as buoyancy and reaching aids are readily available and on hand at 'The Challenge' assessment site, for example a pool noodle or broomstick.
Q Can 'The Challenge' be co-ordinated by Lifeguards?
A Yes.
Q Can students complete 'The Challenge' the week before the planned aquatic activity?
A Yes.
Q Can I use parents to assist with 'The Challenge'?
A Yes. However, a teacher must take overall responsibility for the students and the conduct of 'The Challenge'.
Q Can I purchase Royal Life Saving Survival Challenge certificates?
A Yes.
Q Is 'The Challenge' a learn-to-swim program?
A No.
Q Can students wear any flotation devices during 'The Challenge'?
A No. Students need to demonstrate their swimming proficiency without the use of equipment.
Q If my students were assessed for a previous excursion (last March), is there a need to reassess the swimming ability of students participating in my next excursion (October)?
A Yes.
What a student accomplished in March may not necessarily be retained in the following October/summer.
The swimming ability reported by parents/caregivers on the excursion permission note may be inaccurate for a variety of reasons. The information needs to be confirmed if the student is nominated as a swimmer.
Q Do I have to record names as they are assessed?
A Yes. Names of students who are assessed as either non-swimmers or swimmers are to be recorded immediately following 'The Challenge.' Should a student find that their wrist band is missing (and this should be a rare occurrence) then the teacher is able to refer to the assessment lists to confirm the re-application of the correct band.
Q What if all my students can swim, and have been assessed?
A Wrist bands are not required if the school is the sole occupant of the venue.

Excursion Venue

Q What 'venue specific information' is required?
A Schools will need to carry out a full risk assessment and negotiate safety provisions, lifeguarding and supervision responsibility with the venue management.
Q We are planning a 'reward day' for our primary students at the local swimming pool. We intend to use the wrist bands. Pool management advise indicates that a number of other schools will be utilising the facility at the same time for recreational swimming programs and Learn To Swim. What should I do?
A Liaise with pool facility on their policy and use by schools from all sectors. A designated area for each group should be negotiated.
Q What do I need to do in terms of organisation when our school is considering going to fun parks or aquatic centres where water slides are prominent?
A As the venue is in the best position to provide advice, the school should liaise with the venue prior to the excursion to define the activities and facilities at the venue. Some recreational parks with slides do not have pools designed for swimming and are considered to be a splash pool in shallow water. The usual non-aquatic excursion requirements still apply to these facilities. For facilities with swimming or deep water pools the school should follow 'The Challenge' requirements.
Q What is shallow water?
A For the purpose of these guidelines, shallow water is defined as water depth no higher than a student's waist. This ensures no restrictions to arm movements and allows for a distressed student to raise an arm unimpeded when signalling for help.
Q What if in Sport & Recreation Centres the "shallow water" does not fit the definition as presented in these guidelines?
A At Sport & Recreation Centres and where students have been classified via 'The Challenge' and the "shallow water" does not fit the definition presented in these guidelines the decision to allow the use of flotation devices for non proficent students can be at the discretion of the Sport and Recreation aquatic supervisor.

Extension Programs

Q For older students, can I undertake a higher level within the RLSSA Aquatic Survival Challenge Series?
A Yes. This is very much encouraged. There are also a range of other providers and alternative programs available.

Teacher Swimming Qualifications

Q What is the best option for teachers who are considering qualification in Learn To Swim?
A AUSTSWIM Teacher of Swimming and Water Safety Certificate (DET has courses available please refer to the DET Sport Unit website).
The School Sport Unit also conducts a one day workshop for teachers accompanying classes to the School Swimming Scheme Escort Teacher Course.

Schools with Pools

Q Do these guidelines apply to schools pools?
A Yes.