Friday, January 2, 2009


Here in Western Australia the government runs a program called Vac Swimming (Vacation swimming). They train children to swim - for $1 a day. There are different levels, and the children go up in levels each year as they progress.

The aim of the Vacswim program is to provide equal access for all Western Australians to a safe, quality swimming and water safety program.

The Department of Education and Training's vacation program has grown from its beginnings in 1919 when 5 instructors taught 248 children at three venues to the largest vacation swimming program in Australia. In recent years more than 50,000 children have received lessons at over 200 locations throughout the state. The program employs more than 1,500 qualified swimming instructors.

Vacswim classes operate up to 16 stages at pool or calm water centres in accordance with the Department of Education and Training's Swimming and Water Safety Continuum (stages 1-9) and Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) personal survival (stages 10 to 12) and rescue awards (stages 13 to 16). A more detailed copy of the requirements for each skill listed on the continuum (stages 1-9) is available at Department of Education and Training's Swimming Teachers Handbook and Guidelines.

Now isn't that the way a western civilized mind thinks and plans? Just imagine - holidays, children everywhere - train them to swim, and you increase their skills, help them to stay fit, and decrease fatalities later on. Train the whole nation to have basic swimming skills, and focus on this during the holidays when there's lots of time for this, and it's warm.

Coming from a country where they barely cope with training people to wash their hands after doing a poop, this is quite interesting. Many people "back home" don't know how to use a flush toilet properly - they would rather demolish it and use a hole in the ground and leaves from the bushes. Sicknesses like cholera are spreading because people don't practise basic hygiene. Swimming lessons are not a priority to people like this, which is understandable. But this drags down the rest of the nation who have obtained better basic "survival skills" just by learning this from their parents.

Anyway, that's off topic. We went to the beach this morning, and stayed there until it was time for the Vacswim training at Beatty Park. At Beatty Park we all had a swim in the public swimming pool, and while the two oldest kids were busy with their training, I sneaked off to the cafeteria and ordered a beef burger and chips.

Once again I was just amazed at the facilities that we have available in this country - for next-to-nothing, (nearly free) access. The same basic facilities we had as children "back home", but with one difference - they are still being maintained and regularly upgraded. People are proud of what they have, and every place has a history. The development of these facilities did not suddenly stop in 1989, like Daan Viljoen and Gross Barmen, to name just two disasters in NamBaboonia.

When I was a young boy, we used to go to Daan Viljoen for outings. We had our yearly Sunday school year-end thing there, and I can remember how well the place looked and how nice it was. There were lots of people around, and everyone enjoyed it. Now it's a disaster: baboons have taken over the place (literally), and the lawns are weed-patches. The thatched roofs of the little tables for shade look like they were attacked by a mob. Concrete steps have massive cracks in them. Ants crawl all over you. And that was two years ago, when I visited it for the last time.


Beatty Park Leisure Centre was built and used for the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. It comprised two 50 yard pools, a diving pool, extensive spectator seating and press rooms. Over the next 31 years, the Centre played a prominent role in the development of swimming and aquatic sports in Western Australia, both in education and at an elite level.

Following the construction of Challenge Stadium (previously Superdrome), much controversy surrounded the decision to redevelop Beatty Park Leisure Centre.
Feasibility studies and a series of public consultations were conducted in an effort to ensure that the new facility would meet the needs of the existing users and the broader community.

A total refurbishment took place in 1993 with the best of the old being combined with an exciting new facility. Beatty Park Leisure Centre re-opened in July 1994 and now comprises a 50 metre 8-lane outdoor pool, a 30 metre dive pool, a 25 metre indoor lap pool with adjoining water playground, water slides, diveboards, freeform pool, sauna/spa/steam room, gymnasium, aerobics room, circuit gym, retail shop, cafe, crèche, office space and a series of activity rooms, and spectator seating for approximately 5,000 people.

The Centre is unique in that it has maintained its historical links to the past, yet has become one of Western Australia's premier indoor and outdoor recreation facilities. It is a valued resource for the people within the Town of Vincent and surrounds.

Western civilisation is awesome - never be ashamed of it. Once you start making excuses for your culture and your civilized lifestyle, you start loosing it without realising what's happening. This is what happened to the "Europeans" in Southern Africa. They are slowly being converted into being "Africans". I don't want to be an African.

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