BEST SWIM CLASSES: We'll tell you how to find them
THE most important thing parents could do to safeguard children around waterways was to keep an eye on them, but teaching them water skills was also vital.
According to the Australian Water Safety Strategy, which aimed to halve drowning numbers by 2020, adult supervision, pool fencing, water familiarisation and CPR skills were all important factors in reducing drownings in children aged 0-4.
So, what should Northern Rivers parents look out for when signing their little one up to swim lessons?
Matt George, owner of Summit Sport and Fitness Centre in Goonellabah, said it was important to not only check that your swim school was registered - with either AUSTSWIM or Swim Australia - but also check your instructor was experienced and qualified.
"We pride ourselves on reliability and consistency," Mr George said.
He said having the same teacher each lesson meant trust was built up between the child and the teacher, which was important to achieving the best result.
Lessons for infants Mr George said, were valuable in helping the child become familiar with water and helped to build confidence.
Once a child reached about 2.5-3, he said they were usually old enough to start swim lessons - this differed from child to child, but they needed to be able to follow instructor's directions.
He said there were only three children in these classes and parents were not required to be in the pool with them.
Some tips Mr George said to look out for when booking a class.
• How many children are in each class?
Some swim classes may be cheaper than others, but they may have many more students per class.
At Summit, each preschool-aged swim class had only three students per class, and the school-aged groups, four.
Mr George said you should check if you were getting value for money - smaller classes with qualified, experienced instructors he said, led to better outcomes.
• Check the pool's water temperature and quality
Mr George said a cold pool made it harder for children to concentrate.
It might seem obvious, but also check if the water was nice and clean.
• Will the lesson be free from distraction?
Removing outside distraction was especially important in young children, so check if the area where the lesson was to be conducted was separate from the public and away from other activity that could be distracting.
"It is hard for a child to concentrate if someone is jumping into the pool over them, or sitting nearby eating an ice cream," Mr George said.
For example, said the at their centre, private classes for younger children were not held at the same time larger school groups were using the pool.
More Summit lesson information here.
• Is the swim school well organised?
Mr George said a good swim school would answer your inquiries promptly and in a friendly manner - he said it was an indicator the centre was well organised.
On Facebook, our readers nominated the following swim schools as being among the best on the Northern Rivers.
Tayla Boyle said: "Northern Rivers Swim Academy at Trinity is amazing. we have been attending since my daughter was 14-weeks. Friendly instructors and always a positive experience"
Stacey Wallis: "We only go to the best at Northern Rivers Swim Academy at Trinity. The facilities are clean. Both kids love it there".
Rebecca Yourell said: "For early beginner swimmers, Summit at Goonellabah is great".
Kelly Hayman said: "Definitely Casino pool with Annette, she has taught all our kiddies to swim and is now teaching our youngest daughter".
Rebecca Yourell said: "Lismore Workers Swim Team is an amazing family friendly club. Great coaches who support all children and it is also the most inclusive club in the area".
Naomi Arnison said: "Lismore Workers! Family friendly, competitive pathways if you want. Knowledgeable for those swimmers with disabilities".