February 17
Why the YMCA Swimathon matters to me – and to many others

The power of swimming and water safety should never be underestimated.  It can be many things to many people from different walks of life and of all abilities.  In a land surrounded by water, the one thing it is to every Australian is a vital life skill.

Many of us take the swimming lessons we received as children for granted. But now older and hopefully wiser, we can stop and think about the barriers people with disabilities face when seeking to learn how to swim.

First of all let's discuss access. For people with a physical disability, the centre must be equipped with disability access. This includes the carpark, the path from the entrance to the pool, access in the pool and access in the change rooms.

Pool Hoist$15,000
Mobile Lifter$3,000
Water Wheelchair$2,000


There are many types of disabilities including physical, intellectual, sensory or neurological which play a huge part in finding a teacher appropriate qualified and able to teach a student with a specific disability.  The type of disability and whether the class is group or private significantly, can impact cost.

Teacher Qualification Equipment Cost to participate in classPrivate lesson
Access & Inclusion Qualification $225.00Neck floatation collar $50$884 per year$1,000 per year
 Float suit $500  


These are just some of the additional costs involved in teaching a person with a disability to learn to swim, which are often in addition to costs borne by families at home, at school and for other day to day necessities.

At the YMCA, we strive everyday to ensure our facilities are accessible to everyone and every person who comes through our doors.  We are working hard to increase the number of our swim teachers who are qualified to teach people with a disability learn to swim or be safe in the water, but as a not-for-profit, we need community support to enable this.

This is one of the reasons why we hold our national fundraising event the YMCA Swimathon on February 28th  in 60 pools across Australia! We aim to raise $400,000 so we can further reduce the barriers to access - whether it's to ensure our centres are more accessible, to upskill our instructors or to support those experiencing financial hardship due to their disability.

See this inspiring story in The Age about how one YMCA is able to support more deaf and hearing impaired children to learn to swim, with funds raised through the YMCA Swimathon.

We are asking for your help. Please visit and sign up to swim or make a donation, either a one-off or why not consider donating to one of our extraordinary ambassadors?

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