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SWIM TO SURVIVE: New TAFE NSW course aimed at stemming rising tide of tragedy

TAFE NSW Shellharbour

SWIM TO SURVIVE: New TAFE NSW course aimed at stemming rising tide of tragedy

IN THE SWIM: McKeon Swim School owners Ron and Susie McKeon with daughter and quadruple 2020 Olympics gold medallist Emma McKeon. The McKeons are supporting a new TAFE NSW Shellharbour course aimed at increasing the number of swim instructors locally.

7 December 2021

The head of a local swim centre has welcomed a new TAFE NSW Shellharbour course to train the next generation of swim instructors, as the industry continues to be buffeted by a worsening skills shortage.

For the first time, TAFE NSW Shellharbour will offer a Certificate III in Aquatics and Community Recreation in 2022, aimed at helping stem the rising tide of drownings and the plummeting number of qualified swim instructors in the region.

The recently released Royal Life Saving Society National Drowning Report showed an increase in drownings nationwide, while COVID-19 lockdowns saw swimming classes cancelled locally for about six months.

McKeon Swim Centre director Susie McKeon, mother of homegrown Olympic champion Emma McKeon, said the new TAFE NSW course would help ensure more of the region’s children were given an opportunity to learn to swim.

“It’s fantastic news and we have seen a huge need for swimming instructors locally since COVID-19,” Ms McKeon said.

“It’s such a rewarding job and you have the opportunity to really make a difference in a child’s and a family’s life.”

Premier Dominic Perottet last month announced an expansion of the NSW Government’s First Lap learn-to-swim voucher program.

TAFE NSW Sport and Fitness Teacher Kristen Cantrill said the new TAFE NSW Shellharbour course would qualify graduates as both swim instructors and aqua-aerobics instructors.

“This is about giving locals the practical skills to launch a rewarding new career, or to allow current swim instructors to expand their knowledge,” Ms Cantrill said.

“The course is being offered for the first time because we’ve identified a huge gap in the market for swim and aqua-aerobics instructors.

“It’s a broad qualification and there are so many great career opportunities in the industry.

“To work with children and their families to build a love of swimming and safety is extremely gratifying.”

Among units offered in the 12-month course include instructing water-based fitness activities, instructing swimming strokes and performing basic water rescues.

The practical parts of the course will be delivered at McKeon Swim Centre.

For more information or to enrol, call 131 601 or visit

Media contact: Daniel Johns, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, (02) 6938 1441, mobile 0477 722 428