QUT International Students practice swimming skills at Stradbroke Island

First published 13 December 2019

In 2019 QUT Sport in collaboration with QUT International and the Brisbane Grammar Schools Swimming Club created a Learn to Swim Program. 

Beginning in August, after a successful 5-week pilot program, the program attracted 171 unique visits with 110 recorded in the Women's sessions and 61 in the sessions which were open to all.  

Brisbane Grammar Swimming Club coaches Hiromi Barnett and Bobby Javonovich's expert tuition saw participants advance from the very basic skills needed to gain confidence in the water to develop the freestyle stroke and personal life-saving techniques. 

The end of term Celebration of Learning was a trip to Stradbroke Island on 30 November, giving the participants an opportunity to go in the ocean, which for many was for their first time.

The journey to the island, in itself, was new for some.

'It was my first time on the ferry,

'Initially, I was scared but warmed up after going up the observation deck.

'It was a wonderful experience for me' said Cynthia Akuoko.

A survey of the participants prior to swimming activities was completed during the semester and showed that only 1 person had previously taken part in a similar program, and none in Australia. Participants also recorded a significant rise in their confidence level in the water.

A collaboration with Point Lookout Surf Life Saving was established during the Learn to Swim sessions via their community liaison representative Ann-Sophie Sullivan.

The club welcomed the group to the beach and assigned designated Water Safety Life Savers to the group to oversee their time in the ocean.

When back on dry land the welcome was extended as the group enjoyed a scenic Gorge Walk guided by the club captain Alex Langberg.

From the vantage point of the cliffs, the group could see the different ocean currents being described and look for wildlife, including sea turtles spotted in the white-water of the gorge.

Janith Adikaram described it as 'a wonderful experience to enjoy the sea and learn about the bio diversity of the area'. 

With the successes of the program in the pool and the celebration of learning on Stradbroke Island, QUT Sport looks forward to the program developing further in 2020 with a new cohort of students developing the basic skills and the class of 2019 continuing to build upon their learning and inspiring those just beginning.