In response to 79 drowning deaths that have occurred in Victoria, Australia, since 2005, two groups implemented a landmark pilot program that they hope will pave the way for teaching all children in the region to swim.

Life Saving Victoria and the YMCA now are urging government officials to enforce mandatory swim lessons, according to the Herald Sun.

Initially, the program was tested in Shepparton, where approximately 70 4th grade students participated in the lessons.

Barely half could swim 100m when the lessons began, but that figure had soared to 86 per cent by the end, the news agency reports. With its success LSV chief executive Nigel Taylor said they were now planning a metropolitan pilot.

If the government agrees to compulsory lessons, the YMCA says it will open its pools to schools. The idea has garnered the tentative support of officials.

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