Sudanese Swim Program

Victoria University
Dennis Hemphill
Associate Professor
School of Sport and Exercise Science
Telephone: +61 3 99194486

5 April, 2009

Dennis Hemphill

Vignette title and details

Sudanese Swim Program
A Learning in the Workplace and Community project between Victoria University and Maribyrnong College.


Physical Education

Employment sector

Education; Swimming Instruction and Water Safety

Student numbers

18 students enrolled in the Victoria University Bachelor of Applied Science Physical Education (Secondary) course completed the five week pilot program. Fifteen Sudanese migrant students from Maribyrnong College received swimming, aquatics activity and water safety coaching from these Victoria University students as part of the pilot program.

Credit bearing?

The program was one of the several compulsory Learning in the Workplace and Community activities available to students in Aquatics, a core undergraduate unit in the Physical Education course. Students received academic credit for their participation in the program, which involved lesson planning, instruction, group debriefing and reflective reporting.


Assessment comprised lesson plans and a reflective report, which amounted to 40% of the overall grade for the unit.


Students were not paid for their participation in the program.

Number of staff involved

Four persons were involved in the pilot program. Dennis Hemphill was the project manager. The program was planned, delivered and coordinated by Loretta Konjarski, the Aquatics Unit Coordinator, along with Mark Zahra, the Health and Physical Education Coordinator from Maribyrnong College. A non-academic Victoria University staff member, Erika Moreno, has now been employed to coordinate educational resource development and program marketing.



Key Words

Swimming; Aquatics; Water Safety; Physical Education; Partnership; Learning in the Workplace and Community

The pilot Sudanese Swim Program was a joint project between Victoria University and Maribyrnong Secondary College funded by a Victoria University Teaching and Learning Support grant. The pilot program was developed in accordance with the Universitys Making VU initiative, which mandates an increase in Learning in the Workplace and Community programs across all courses at the University.

The pilot program was aimed at enhancing the teaching and learning experiences for students and staff of both institutions through the development of a learn-to-swim and water safety program for Sudanese migrant students at Maribyrnong College. It was taught by Victoria University students enrolled in the Bachelor of Applied Science-Physical Education (Secondary) course.

The program is one of several community partnerships developed by Victoria University that have the potential to improve the participation and wellbeing of those living in the western metropolitan region of Melbourne.

Structure of program
Fifteen Sudanese students from Maribyrnong College were selected to take part in the after-school learn-to-swim, aquatics activity and water safety program delivered at the Universitys Aquatics and Fitness Centre during Semester 1 of 2008.

The selection of Maribyrnong College students to participate in the program was undertaken by the Health and Physical Education Coordinator of Maribyrnong College. The Coordinator also organised parental consent, timetabling, transportation and supervision of the Maribyrnong College students participating in the program.

The pilot program was designed to provide an authentic teaching-learning situation for both the Maribyrnong College and Victoria University Physical Education students. At the beginning of the program, Victoria University students were divided into small groups and asked to design and plan five two-hour sessions of aquatic activities for Maribyrnong College students who were non-swimmers. The challenge was to introduce basic swimming and lifesaving skills to a group without using activities that would seem too simple or not engaging or challenging enough for adolescent non-swimmers.

Under the supervision of the Aquatics Unit Coordinator from Victoria University, Physical Education students also developed lesson plans and then worked one-on-one in the pool with Maribyrnong College Sudanese students to teach swimming skills and lead aquatic activities. Lessons were followed by de-briefing sessions to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching and make recommendations for improvement. Students were assessed on the basis of written lesson plans and a reflective report.

Special features
The pilot program has been a clear success providing mutual benefits to Victoria University and Maribyrnong College students. The Victoria University Physical Education students developed leadership knowledge and skills in a life-like hands-on manner, whilst most of the Maribyrnong College Sudanese students were able to master some basic swimming progressions and were encouraged to take part in lifesaving activities. The basic introduction to water safety and beginning swimming skills provided by Victoria University proved effective, with many of the Maribyrnong College students qualifying to the second level of the swimming skills course, Swim and Survive.

Feedback from participants in the program was very positive. One Year 10 Sudanese student commented I had never been swimming before, but after I got in, I realised I could do it. Now that I have had some lessons, I am getting better and will keep it up. You never know, you might see me at the next Olympics. Of the Victoria University Physical Education students, one stated the program was the most valuable and rewarding experience of our three years at University.

In addition to feedback from students, the success of the program was also reflected in its selection for the Victoria University Diamond Database, a publication which showcases innovative teaching and learning practices at the University.

Future Developments
Following the success of the pilot program, it is anticipated that the program will continue and be embedded as Learning in the Workplace and Community opportunity for Physical Education students in the Aquatic unit of the Bachelor of Applied Science-Physical Education (Secondary) course.

A Sudanese Swim program website is being developed to house resources (e.g., photographs, DVD, testimonials, lesson plans, podcasts) for educational and marketing use by both Victoria University and Maribyrnong College.

Some ideas to expand the educational scope and value of the program in the future are as follows:

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