Swimming With Confidence
6 Dec 2019
With the first wave of summer upon us and those long, lazy days ahead many students naturally start thinking about spending more time at the beach. Those crystal clear waters and golden sands are one of the city’s biggest drawcards and for a large number of international students that’s an irresistible prospect. But for many of them beach culture, much less the prospect of being able to swim in the surf, is as foreign and palatable as a Vegemite sandwich.
The lure of the beach is strong, but without the knowledge and confidence to navigate the waves the closest they usually get is being left high and dry on the sand. With that in mind the city’s only beachside university, Southern Cross, has partnered with Surf Life Saving Queensland to launch their Hit The Beach surf safety program through Study Gold Coast’s Vision 2020 partnership fund.
The 2019-20 Hit the Beach program recently launched on Coolangatta Beach where around 40 international students took part. Some, like Mia Nguyen from Vietnam can’t swim at all and has come down to the beach today to find out what the program is all about. “I basically just float in the water,” she says. “I don’t really come to the beach because I don’t know how to swim, but if I could swim I would certainly come and maybe eventually take up surfing.”
Other students, like Davina Yang from China have successfully taken part in the program and are now confident to swim at the beach.
“I was good at breaststroke before I came to Australia, but I didn’t know how to do freestyle which I Iearnt as part of the swim program”, says Davina. “The coaches were very patient with me (laughs). It took about 6 swimming lessons before I felt I was a reasonably good freestyle swimmer. I was also taught how to deal with difficult situations in the surf and I’m a lot more confident. I know how to swim safely in the surf now”.
Davina really liked the small class sizes which allowed for more personalised tuition and saw her improve her skills quickly. However the best part of the course was “being able to do it with my university friends”.
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Students) at Southern Cross University, Professor Nan Bahr, said the Hit the Beach program provided water safety leadership that connected with many students.
“We want people to study in Australia and we want them to make the most of our beaches when they are here, hence the importance of programs like this.”
CEO of Study Gold Coast, Mr Alfred Slogrove, said beach awareness and safety were vital for the city’s international students.
“We are welcoming students from all over the world, many from countries where the beach and surf are not part of their cultures,” he said.
The Hit the Beach program will run across the Gold Coast throughout summer. The course is free and open to all Gold Coast students.