Australians aged 45 years and over are being encouraged to consult their doctor before enjoying the health benefits of swimming to prevent drowning deaths involving people with pre-existing conditions.
Royal Life Saving New South Wales (NSW) together with the NSW Government launched the Swim Ready initiative to educate and raise awareness among people aged over 45 years about the link between the use of medication and an increased risk of drowning.
Over the past 17 years, 843 people aged 45 years and over lost their lives to drowning in NSW. Of these, 55% involved people with pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, mental health and dementia.
All medication has possible side effects that can have an impact on exercise. This can put people at higher risk of drowning when participating in aquatic activities. For example, dizziness, fainting, chest pain, headaches, confusion, blurred vision and muscle pain, can all affect a person’s capacity to stay safe in water.
Drowning data from 2008/09 to 2017/18 suggests that, for unintentional fatal drownings in older people, an estimated 36% were taking some form of medication or drug. Of these, 65% of drownings involved multiple drugs
“More and more Australians are enjoying the health benefits of swimming later in life. Our Swim Ready initiative highlights our commitment to encouraging active lifestyles while ensuring everyone stays safe while they are in the water.” Michael Ilinsky, Chief Executive Officer, Royal Life Saving NSW.
Office of Sport Acting chief executive officer Karen Jones said swimming was a fantastic activity for people of all ages but insisted everyone is Swim Ready.
“I encourage everyone to swim in a safe and responsible manner, and enjoy the health benefits that it brings,” Ms Jones said. “Swimming should be done in consideration of any pre-existing health conditions that can create a drowning risk.”
As people age, changes occur in the way their bodies process medications, and the benefit/risk profile of a medication can change.
Chronic medical conditions are more common in ageing populations which means older people are more likely to be prescribed several medications. Multiple drug interactions can be complex and can increase the incidence of side effects in older individuals, which can increase the risk of drowning in this group.
Be Swim Ready - Before you jump in:
- Chat to your doctor about your health
- Consider the effects of any medication you are taking
- And remember it’s safer to swim in a supervised area
When it comes to safety, socialising and support there’s no better plan than swimming at your local Aquatic Centre.
Health Benefits of Swimming
Swimming has been shown to help prevent or manage many chronic diseases, as well as improving overall physiological and psychological health.
- Improves coordination, balance and posture
- Alleviates stress and improves general mental health and wellbeing.
- Builds endurance, muscle strength and tone
- Improves immunity and decreases inflammation
- Keeps joints flexible
- Increases respiratory capacity and function
- Improves cardiovascular fitness and health
- Helps to maintain a healthy bodyweight.
Are your customers Swim Ready?
As a Royal Life Saving Partner we value Aquatic Centres promoting our Swim Ready message and working together to make everyone safe around water.
We have a range of marketing resources available to industry to promote across your own communication channels and to display in your facility. This includes: Video Content, Social Media, Web Content and Aquatic Centre Displays.