If you’re aged between 3 and 60 and grew up in the district, chances are you were taught to swim by Geoff Dale. Geoff has celebrated 30 years of his Geoffswim program, which has seen him teach swimming and water safety to the youth of Cohuna since 1992. But his swimming teaching goes back much further – to 1967.
It was after returning to Cohuna from boarding school in Geelong that he began teaching swimming with the Cohuna Swimming Club and later introduced private school holiday swimming lessons in 1967. He might not have been qualified, but he was a competitive swimmer and knew a thing or two about the sport and was keen to impart that knowledge onto his students.
Geoff went on to manage the Cohuna Swimming Pool and introduced his Geoffswim program in 1992. With the amalgamation of the Cohuna and Kerang shires and Borough of Kerang in 1995, Geoff won the tender to manage both Kerang and Cohuna swimming pools for the newly formed Gannawarra Shire Council and, now an AUSTSWIM accredited teacher, expanded his Geoffswim program to Kerang.
While he no longer manages the pools, Geoff continues to offer Geoffswim lessons at the Cohuna Swimming Pool every January, with nine lessons spread over three weeks and offered to children aged 2 to teens.
Geoff uses his own progression of teaching swimming, from becoming familiar with the water – putting their face in the water and submerging – and then teaching strokes. “As soon as they submerge, I teach them swimming,” he said.
Swimming lessons, Geoff says, provide a life skill. “You’ve got to be able to recreationally swim. It’s also a lifesaving skill. Not that that stops you drowning, you can’t drown-proof anybody, it’s a safety skill. If they learn to swim, they become aware of the dangers of the water. The kids won’t go down the deep end because they’re too scared – they become aware of the dangers, whereas, a non-swimmer wouldn’t be so aware.”
Geoff says that the three pools at Cohuna are perfect for the differing ability levels and it is important that Cohuna continues to have facilities that will enable the continuation of swimming lessons in town, whether it is with private lessons or through a swimming club. “I would like to see a 25-metre competitive standard pool, so kids can swim competitive distance, a wading pool and a learners pool with wade in entry,” he said of any future aquatic facility in town.
With 30 years of Geoffswim under his belt – and 56 years of teaching in total, it is safe to say that Geoff takes the title for the most experienced and trusted swimming teacher in town. The 80-year-old has no plans to slow down, so keep an eye out for details of the 2024 lessons as next summer approaches.
This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 26 January 2023.