A brand-new swim school has officially opened in Muchea, bringing a much-needed and potentially life-saving resource to the region.
Water Ponyz Swim School is the creation of Suzette Thomas, a mum of four who would take her own children over an hour away for swimming lessons each week, clearly aware of the gap in market.
Suzette says, “My husband took the kids to swimming lessons one day – we attended a little school in Forrestdale; quaint swim school, small classes, really personal and he said ‘Suze you should do this, we have nothing up here!’ So, I said okay – project!”
Suzette went on to complete her swimming teaching qualifications and gain experience as a swim teacher. She also began the exhaustive 4-year process of completing applications and gaining all the necessary approvals to operate an aquatic facility. Construction of the swim school took 5 months once all the boxes were ticked.
Water Ponyz offers lessons for babies from 4 months old to swim stage level 12; and also caters for adults who are wanting to learn to swim. The 16.67m long pool is heated to 31 degrees and runs at a continuous depth of 1.15 metres. They offer lessons year-round, which is great for cementing the necessary swim skills, especially in younger children. The key to success, says Suzette: “It’s purely time and exposure — and continuous. If you have a kid have 2 weeks off, they will go back a step or two. I have found with my own kids; they would swim all summer, be pretty good swimmers, then not swim over winter; come around to the next summer and be back to square one.”
The importance of learning to swim in Australia cannot be underestimated — many of our recreational pursuits centre around water-based activities; and there are many properties with their own water hazards, such as dams, on site. From 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017, 291 people died from drowning, and 42 of those were in Western Australia — this actually represents an increase in drowning rates based on the 10-year average. Perhaps even more concerning is the rate of non-fatal drowning events. There were 685 non-fatal drowning incidents that resulted in hospitalisation during the same time period, 42% of these were in the 0-4 age group. Suzette says, “There’s not a lot of time — three minutes without oxygen and you have permanent brain damage.”
Suzette has an obvious passion and dedication to Water Ponyz Swim School and teaching children such a valuable life skill; and to see the results of nearly 5 years of planning and construction — “It’s pretty exciting — and still a bit surreal to be honest!” she says.
Classes at Water Ponyz were starting to fill up after their official opening on 30 December, in which Suzette’s 92-year old grandmother cut the ceremonial ribbon.
For enquiries and enrolment information you can contact Suzette on 0408 987 112, email firstname.lastname@example.org or find them on Facebook @waterponyz.