Australia has experienced a spike in drowning deaths in the summer of 2020/2021 after fitness levels plunged during Covid lockdowns, a top lifesaver has warned.
At least 55 people have died as a result of drowning this summer alone, compared to just 43 at this time last year.
According to Liam Krige, the general manager at Life Saving Victoria, the staggering amount of drowning deaths this season is done to dwindling fitness and a blase attitude to the dangers.
‘The sad reality is that people think it’s not going to happen to them, or that they don’t need to worry about it,’ Mr Krige told The Age.
‘We knew people were going to be less fit during the coronavirus lockdown, and missing swimming lessons and it’s exactly why we’ve, alongside other emergency services, have scaled up.’
Just days ago, single mother-of-four Aida Hamad (pictured) was killed after she was swept off rocks by a large wave along Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula
Australia has experienced a spike in drowning deaths in the summer of 2020/2021 as fitness levels plunge during Covid lockdowns (pictured, Bushrangers Bay where a young mum died)
Mr Krige added that the easing of restrictions heading into summer could have contributed to Victoria’s record number of drownings in the past six months.
‘People probably aren’t as fit as they used to be… their abilities probably aren’t what they thought,’ he said.
In Victoria, seven people have died in the last ten days alone.
Life guards and authorities are on high alert across Australia’s coast line as they respond to increased call outs for drownings.
Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp urged the public to take responsibility for their actions.
He also addressed the impact of lockdown and the Covid pandemic, restricting people’s movements for so much of 2020 and limiting access to swimming lessons and safe water environments.
Senior Constable Kelly Foster, 39, died while attempting to save a young woman from a whirlpool in the Blue Mountains on January 2
Rough surf conditions paired with a lack of time in the water has also likely heightened the risk- (pictured, wild waves at South Narrabeen in Sydney)
‘We’ve had 42 people die as a result of drowning deaths. If you look at the whole 12 months before that, there was 34 people that died. So, already we’ve seen a significant increase in only six-and-a- half months,’ Mr Crisp said.
‘It’s involved everyone from a young child of four years of age, through to a gentleman into his 60s.
Just days ago, single mother-of-four Aida Hamad was killed after she was swept off rocks by a large wave along Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.
Ms Hamad was among four family members who were wiped off rocks at Bushrangers Bay near Cape Schanck, close to the peninsula’s southernmost point.
Two men nearby jumped into the water to assist, but the 45-year-old could not be saved.
Nepalese student Sachet Bimali (pictured above) was ‘living his dream’ of life in Australia before he drowned while jumping into a popular pool at the Royal National Park
Ms Hamad was one of three people to die in separate incidents along Victoria’s coast on January 14.
The second death was at Venus Bay in Gippsland.
A woman in her 20s was pulled from the water after going in to help save a teenage girl who was seen struggling to swim.
An off-duty lifeguard performed CPR but the woman could not be saved.
The third death was that of a man in his 80s, brought to shore unconscious at the popular Rye Front Beach in Tootgarook.
Meanwhile in New South Wales, Sachet Bimali, 23, was swept away in the Royal National Park after plunging into a lagoon from a rock ledge.
Richard Capbagan and Denny Jade Caballa (pictured together) drowned at Teewah Beach near Noosa in December
The fatality also occurred just minutes after paid lifeguards, who patrol the lagoon across summer, had completed their official duties for the day.
An international student, 24, and a policewoman also drowned in the NSW Blue Mountains, with witnesses reporting the heroic officer was trying to save the student from a whirlpool.
The bodies of Senior Constable Kelly Foster, 39, and the younger woman were recovered a day after they went missing at Wollangambe Canyon.
Witnesses said Senior Constable Foster tried to rescue the younger woman after her inflatable lilo was swept in by a whirlpool, tipping her off and into the water.
But she was also swept into the whirlpool as she tried to haul out the stricken tourist.
Further north, two men recently drowned while trying to save their children from a dangerous current in Teewah Beach, north of Noosa on the Sunshine Coast.
Keen surfer Luddy Reynolds, 20, slipped and fell while crossing the Mary River, near Gympie, north of Brisbane on New Years Eve.
His body was pulled from the water some 12 hours later, ending a frenzied search to locate him.
Keen surfer Luddy Reynolds, 20, slipped and fell while crossing the Mary River, near Gympie, north of Brisbane on New Years Eve