FREE Migrant Swimming Program

A free swimming and water safety program for new migrants and refugees has been developed in response to the number of drownings in the migrant and refugee communities.

The program is a collaboration between iSwim @ Immanuel College, West Beach Surf Life Saving Club and Surf Life Saving SA. Supported by AUSTSWIM SA Business Centre.

New migrants and refugees can often have no experience of the Australian aquatic environment and are not aware of how to recognise and dangers in open water and rips without any understanding of balance or survival skills.


In January 2016, two Burundian boys drowned at Glenelg. Women from the Burundian Community approached West Beach Surf Life Saving Club’s Diversity Officer Peter Taylor, requesting help to understand water safety so they could help their communities.

West Beach Surf Life Saving Club taught the group water safety and they became active surf club members. Funding through AUSTSWIM SA and Department of Recreation & Sport enabled a group to be trained as swimming and water safety teachers.

In 2017, a collaboration between West Beach Surf Lifesaving Club and iSwim @ Immanuel College was initiated to run a program to teach swimming and water safety to new migrants.

The first program for refugees and new migrants ran for two weeks in January 2018 and is now an annual program. The collaboration between iSwim, SLSSA, WBSLSC and AUSTSWIM is providing a sustainable program for aquatic safety and awareness; one that can be implemented by other swim centres and surf clubs.

2019 New Migrant & Refugee Swimming & Water Safety program;

Week 1: iSwim @ Immanuel College, 30 minute classes between 12pm and 3pm daily. Baby classes through to adults.

Week 2: West Beach Surf Lifesaving Club 9am – 12pm. 30 minute classes ‘surf babies’ through to adults.

The pool based program is designed around water familiarisation, safety skills and basic swimming skills.

 The beach program builds on these skills in open water with the addition of surf safety.

·        Recognising rips

·        Where to swim safely

·        Understanding sand bars and gutters

·        How to recover to stand safely if knocked over by a wave.

·        Floating, treading water, basic swimming skills.


Further information contact:
Carolyn Veldhuyzen, Manager iSwim @ Immanuel College 0414 753 137
Peter Taylor, Diversity Officer West Beach Surf Lifesaving Club 0419 819 360

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