'Little bit of trepidation': WestSwim Lakelands struggling to stay afloat as swimming lesson enrolments plunge

Photo: Kaylee Meerton.
Photo: Kaylee Meerton.

A popular Mandurah swimming centre is struggling to stay afloat, despite coronavirus restrictions easing across WA.

The Lakelands WestSwim centre was forced to close the pool to the public on March 23 as the pandemic swept the globe.

Almost three months later, with the green light to finally reopen in line with the state government's phase three easing of restrictions, it was hoped swimming lessons would resume as normal.

However, in the week of June 15, the WestSwim centre had just 145 enrolments.

This compares to June last year, when they had 545 weekly enrolments, or even during their opening week in May 2018 when they had 227 weekly enrolments.

Swimming WA were able to draw on financial reserves and take advantage of government assistance during the outbreak when revenue all but disappeared, but is now weighing up the viability of the Lakelands facility.

Photo: Supplied.

Photo: Supplied.

Swimming WA chief executive Darren Beazley said he believed parents were frightened to enrol their children in classes due to COVID-19, but that there was "no need" for the concern.

"We think there's a little bit of trepidation at the moment about rushing back in but... we're encouraging people to take the leap and get back in the water," he said.

"The place is very clean, disinfected and abides by social distancing.

"COVID-19 is an evolving virus and I'm not going to pretend I'm an expert on it, but chlorine is certainly pretty good at handling most nasty viruses."

Across WA, it is estimated the shutdown of the aquatic industry cost up to $76 million dollars in lost revenue.

A majority of the state's 4,150 pool lifeguards, pool operators and swim instructors were left unemployed, with more than 50 per cent of those staff employed on a casual basis and aged between 18-24 years old.

Mr Beazley said it had been a tough few months but they were fighting hard to continue providing life-saving lessons for families in the area.

"We're a not-for-profit so any money we do make goes back into swimming lessons, but all of these overheads don't go away," he said.

"We closed for almost three months and we're now slowly starting to bring our employees back on JobKeeper.

"Our biggest challenge is being in a position to be commercially viable."

It is predicted up to 50,000 children may have missed out on taking part in swimming lessons during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Mr Beazley said learning to swim was a "vital skill" and parents should try to get their kids back in the water as quickly as possible.

"To me, the most important skill parents can teach is learning to swim," he said.

"This is a really unique service we provide for people's most precious resource - their children."