GREENS councillor Mithra Cox will seek to ease restrictions on school swimming carnivals when Wollongong Council reviews its School Use of Council Swimming Pools Policy at its January 30 meeting.
“Wollongong Council currently has a ban on ‘non-competitive swimming’ at carnivals, which means that many students don’t even get wet at the school swimming carnival any more,” Cr Cox said.
The Greens councillor will seek to amend the present policy which limits primary school carnivals to half a day, and bans non-competitive swimming, when it is debated by Council.
“For many children, the highlight of the carnival used to be the fun races at the end of the day – the tug of war, the boogie board races and the pool noodle challenge.
“But now fun races have been banned by Wollongong Council, and students can only race in competitive races in Council pools.
“Teachers have told me that only a small proportion of the most competitive, sporty kids participate in swimming carnivals, a big decline from a decade ago.
“There is no good reason for Council to restrict fun races at carnivals. The Department of Education has stringent guidelines to ensure supervision and safety of children, outlined in the Water Safety Guidelines for Unstructured Aquatic Activity and Sport Safety Guidelines. These guidelines limit unstructured free swimming, but still allow for fun races under supervision from teachers. The Council ban goes above and beyond the Department of Education guidelines.
“It is not Council’s job to be the fun police. We should be encouraging all our young people to get involved in their swimming carnivals and have a good time.
“Council also restricts primary schools with fewer than 800 kids to half day carnivals. There is no good reason for this, and means that schools with 700 students have only three hours to complete their carnival, leaving hardly any time for non-competitive swimming,” Cr Cox said.