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Putting drowning prevention on the world stage

SwimTayka had the chance to spread the word about the work we do, at the recent World Conference on Drowning Prevention.

The event, held in Perth, Australia, aimed to focus world attention on drowning prevention, gathering together experts in drowning prevention, lifesaving and water safety. SwimTayka was lucky to be represented at the four-day event by Dr Neil Rushton and SwimTayka trustee Robert Hamilton.

Neil, a lifelong swimmer, is an expert in cold water immersion and a lecturer at the University of
Exeter.

He said: “We really need a multiagency approach to drowning, because it affects so many different
groups of people – refugees, people who’ve been drinking, those living and work alongside water,
non-swimmers, those over-ambitious in how far they can swim. It is shocking that over a quarter of a
million people die from drowning every year. The idea behind the conference is to get to zero
drownings.”

Rob, a swimming coach, said: “I was impressed with how many different areas
are coming together, including the drowning prevention side, the swimming side, coastal
management and so on. There was a lot of knowledge gathering and knowledge sharing, based on
research that has been done. There are things we can do to improve the solution we offer.”
Neil added: “There were a lot of academics there, but interestingly, nobody seemed to be doing
what SwimTayka does, so this was a great opportunity to spread the word about our drowning
prevention programmes. We seem quite unique in our practical approach. Indeed, we offer a
solution to many of the problems being identified.”

Both Rob and Neil made connections with other delegates and are exploring links with other
countries, including Bangladesh, with a view to introducing a SwimTayka programme.

The World Conference on Drowning Prevention is held every two years, and adds to the momentum
for drowning prevention strategies to be adopted. This began building two years ago, when UN
General Assembly members adopted an historic resolution, committing to greater efforts to prevent
drowning and introducing a World Drowning Prevention Day. This was followed in 2023 by the
World Health Organization’s drowning prevention resolution.

Everyone concluded that World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2023 was a success. It was
attended by around 750 delegates representing 50 countries, all sharing a common goal, to
eliminate drowning.

And one final message from Neil and Rob. Neil: “Drowning should be history”; Rob: “There’s no need
for anybody to drown these days.”