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February 2019

Starter kit and posters in swimming pool foyer jpeg
Healthy swimming starter kits have been provided to every child taking part in VicSwim’s 2018/19 summer learn to swim program.

Safe summer swimming stops sickness

While swimming is fun and a great way to stay fit and active, germs can sometimes contaminate the water and make people sick.

Victoria’s acting Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said chlorine killed most germs in public pools but some – such as cryptosporidium – were highly-resistant to chlorine at normal concentrations.

Dr Sutton said these germs could live in pool water for days and make people sick.

Outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis (crypto) associated with pools occurred when swimmers accidentally swallowed contaminated pool water.

As part of VicSwim’s 2018/19 summer learn to swim program, healthy swimming starter kits have been provided to every child taking part.

The kits contain body wash and a water bottle, a sticker and colouring sheet plus healthy swimming tips for parents.

In 2018, there were six outbreaks linked to aquatic facilities.

In 2017, there were 18 outbreaks of crypto associated with public swimming pools, compared with five in 2016.

‘Everyone has a responsibility to keep themselves and others safe and healthy and help keep the pool clean and free of germs,’ Dr Sutton said.

Five healthy swimming steps to help keep the pool clean are:

•      Shower and wash with soap, especially your bottom, before swimming;

•      Wash your hands with soap after going to the toilet or changing a nappy;

•      Change nappies in nappy change areas only;

•      Avoid swallowing pool water;

•      Do not swim if you have diarrhoea.

‘Even in the best-maintained pools, germs on your body can wash off and contaminate the water,’ Dr Sutton said.

‘You and your children are more likely to be infectious when not feeling well.

‘Showering with soap before swimming will help keep germs out of the water.

‘If you have vomiting or diarrhoea, stay out of the water.

‘Even when you are recovering, stay out of the water until the symptoms have stopped.

‘To prevent further spread of crypto, it is important for swimmers who have had crypto not to swim for two weeks after diarrhoea stops.’

The Department’s Healthy Swimming campaign aims to educate aquatic facility managers and patrons about what healthy swimming behaviour is and why it is important and encourages everyone to be healthy swimmers.

•      For more information about Healthy Swimming visit https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/.