Safety first in the swimming pool

“LOOK before you leap” was the message passed on to prep students at the Traralgon Indoor Sports and Aquatic Centre last week.

A bid to increase water safety awareness among students has inspired one Latrobe Valley resident to use her story as an example for students.

Last week, 27 year-old Samantha Kobiela urged students from Liddiard Road Primary School to “think before you jump” as they participated in water safety lessons.

Ms Kobiela, who became a quadriplegic at the age of 13 following a diving accident at a swimming pool, said she would hate for “anyone to go through what I have been through”.

“If I can help a child not go through what I did, that would mean something,” Ms Kobiela said.

“I didn’t know anything about spinal cord injury at the time… I lost a whole chunk of my life, missed out on a lot of school and lost contact with friends.”

“So it’s good to try to talk to kids and help them understand that something so simple and easily done (as jumping into a pool) can change everything.”

Ms Kobiela, who approached Life Saving Victoria to conduct a safety lesson for students in the Valley, said she was keen on spreading her message to all schools.

Life Saving Victoria recently initiated a ‘Play it safe by the water’ campaign, using educational lessons to inform students about water safety.

Ms Kobiela’s passion to share her message across the regional community was heralded by Life Saving Victoria manager media and communications Jennifer Roberts.

“Nine per cent of spinal cord injuries are water related, so our message is it’s never too early to start water safety lessons,” Ms Roberts said.

“It’s all about that one jump and one split second so it’s absolutely important to make sure we do whatever we can to help keep kids safe.”