SWIMMING lessons may be an everyday thing for some people, but for Carol Dalton they are what helped her recover from a near drowning experience and get back into the water.
Carol, who is now 61-years-old, started the swimming lessons at the Great Lakes Aquatic Centre in April last year.
She said she was a nervous wreck when she started, still recovering from nearly drowning earlier that year at the Narrabeen lakes in Sydney, where she was stand-up-paddleboarding with family.
They had paddled to a section of the lake that was deeper than Carol expected when a gust of wind blew her off the board.
When she fell in the water all she had was her paddle, which she gripped onto, hoping it would take her to the surface.
Her son in law and granddaughter’s husband, who was a life guard, were able to rescue her.
“I was overconfident at the time,” Carol said.
“You think that you will be fine.”
Her family then said if she ever wanted to get back in the water she would have to do swimming lessons.
Carol is back in the pool now, and the ocean too. She often comes to the aquatic centre to go for a swim so her confidence will continue to build.
“Since the swimming lessons my mindset has changed,” Carol said.
“I’m not so frightened anymore, but I wouldn’t take the same risks.
“I still have limitations, but I also have an awareness of them. If I went stand-up-paddleboarding again I would wear a life jacket.”
A recent Royal Life Saving Australia study into drowning deaths found 36 per cent were made up of over 50-year-olds.
While most of those in the 36 per cent were males, the majority happened at their locality and about 20 per cent while engaging in water craft activities, like stand-up-paddelboarding.
Carol, who grew up in far north Queensland, said even though she lived by the coast she never learnt to swim because of the deadly jellyfish that live in the tropical oceans.
“We used to love the beach, but you wouldn’t go in the water because of the stingers,” she said.
“I nearly lost a cousin to stingers.”
And while her school provided swimming lessons, they were poorly structured and provided little help with water awareness and swim skills. But now, Carol enjoys the calming feel of taking a dip.
She said a large part of her newly found positive feelings towards water is because of the wonderful learning environment the Great Lakes Aquatic Centre provides. She thanked Brian Bartlett, who has instructed swimming for six years, for his lessons.
“As an older person, he was very respectful to me,” Carol said.
“He would always say what he was going to do and where and why he would touch me.”
At the end of each lesson pool lifeguards and other staff would let her know how well she was doing and how much she improved.
“I was very happy with the aquatic centre staff, they were very encouraging and that made the experience fun.”