Inclusive swimming program in Sydney for kids of all abilities and ages.

PHOTO: Tracey with Little Hero Kate Seckold (12), who uses a wheelchair. (ABC: Cathy Jacobs)


Extract from ABC NEWS article by Cathy Jacobsupdated 11 Oct, 2017, 7.19am

After decades witnessing less able kids being pushed to the side in mainstream swimming schools, swim instructor Tracey Ayton took the plunge and set up a not-for-profit swimming academy with a philosophy of inclusion.

She is on a mission to create what she believes will be the first of its kind in Australia – a purpose-built swim centre in Sydney where the aquatic needs of people with special needs come first.

While she is raising funds to build the specialised centre, Tracey is making another ‘first’ by offering swimming classes for children of all abilities in six city locations.

To read the full article go to: Tracey Ayton helps children with special needs take the plunge to learn to swim

We think the Little Heroes Swim Centre classes, as well as their beach-safe program offered at Bondi Beach, will be of interest to working carers who live in Sydney and support a child with disability of any kind – especially with summer on our doorstep. Getting outdoors and exercising is great for the health of the whole family and helps you recharge your batteries after a stressful working week.

The centres are:

  1. Andrew (Boy) Charlton, the domain, 1c Mrs Macquarie’s Road, Sydney

The Andrew (Boy) Charlton Aquatic Centre is an unbelievable place to swim and chill out especially when the weather gods are smiling. Lessons take place in the outdoor program pool which is chemically treated salt water.

Sessions available: Terms 1 and 4. 

  1. Icebergs, 1 Notts Ave, Bondi Beach

The Icebergs is an eastern suburbs icon and offers sessions running over the summer months. Best suited for students five years and up.

Sessions available: Terms 1 and 4. 

  1. Kincoppal, Vaucluse Rd, Rose Bay

This venue boasts an indoor 25-metre chlorinated pool heated to 28 degrees. Sessions are available for infants, mainstream, disabilities and squad programs.

Sessions available: Sundays 7:30am-1:00pm.

  1. Prince Alfred Park, Chalmers St, near Central Station

This venue boasts an outdoor 50-metre chlorinated pool. Located right next to Central Station, with fantastic amenities and ample undercover areas for the family to gather.

Sessions available: Terms 1 and 4.

  1. Royal Rehab, 235 Morrison Rd, Putney

This pool features the warmest water, sitting at a beautiful 33 degrees, and is the perfect place for the infants and disabilities programs. As the pool is only used by Little Heroes during the session, noise is at a minimum and space not a problem.

Sessions available: Mondays 3:30pm-5:30pm. 

  1. Souths Juniors, 558 Anzac Parade, Kingsford

This club houses a warm indoor 25-metre heated pool, perfectly suited to children with disability. Sessions available: Sundays 2:00pm-5:00pm.

The Little Heroes Disability Program caters to ‘little heroes’ with either a physical, intellectual or developmental disability, those who may have behavioural challenges, or a mix of these, and who need extra support in learning how to swim, or access the water.

Special needs students learn vital water safety skills alongside their mainstream peers, using an individual and holistic approach that teaches them how to be more water aware, relaxed, confident, safer in and near water, and to develop their swimming skills and have fun. The key to the success of the program is its highly individualised approach to teaching swimming. Classes are provided on a one-on-one basis by a specially qualified teacher, with support and advice from an in-house occupational therapist.

Families can access subsidised lessons through the Niclas Kesler Scholarship.

Arms Reach at the Beach Program

The Arms Reach at the Beach Program was created for younger kids aged between two and eight-years-old and their adult carers. It teaches essential observation and moving water skills to support parents and younger children to be confident and in control when swimming within the flags.

The lesson begins on the sand with a discussion about supervision at the beach, how to read tides, how far to go out, where the best place to swim is within the flags, how to walk safely in and out of the water and why you should never turn your back on the ocean.

It also teaches you to continually refer to a point on the beach while you are swimming in the ocean, to ensure you don’t drift from between the flags and helps you map out an emergency action plan.  This is followed with a practical session where beach instructors teach participants specific surf swimming skills, from how to stand or roll, to how to duck under the waves.

Everyone then moves into shallow water within the flags and participants enjoy trying out their newly learnt skills during a swimming session.

During this session, instructors also teach older kids essential surf techniques on biscuit boards – how to get onto waves and how to get back in from the break – with a focus on staying in control.

Keeping adults within ‘Arms Reach’ of children – especially those under six – is at the heart of this program and all children enrolled in Arms Reach at the Beach must be accompanied by a parent/adult carer on the day.

To learn more about the remarkable Little Heroes programs for both mainstream and differently-abled children visit:

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