La Trobe Sport and IT students collaboration improves water safety

A collaborative project has seen students from La Trobe’s Computer Sciences and Information Technology Partnerships department work together with La Trobe Sport in a bid to improve water safety.

The project, which is aimed at providing positive aquatic experiences and exposure to fun, safe water-based activities within La Trobe Sport’s Swim School programs for both children and adults, will be presented at the 2021 Engineering and IT Showcase later this month.

La Trobe Sport offers swimming lessons at the Indoor Sports Centre for children aged between 3 – 16, as well as an adult Learn to Swim program which helps introduce adults who are not familiar around water.

Complete with video content, the students have worked with La Trobe Sport to design a self-paced interactive questionnaire to better accurately determine the swimming abilities of both junior and adult learner swimmers.

La Trobe Sport Senior Operations Coordinator, Jai Haddock, believes the new system will result in a much higher level of accuracy amongst the grading.

“A general questionnaire usually helps to determine the most suitable class,” he said.

“But this can be quite labour intensive as well as being confusing for some participants who aren’t familiar with the terminology normally obtained around water.

“We are confident that this project will make our Learn to Swim program far more accessible for all members of the community including those people from communities that would not normally be put off by the prospect of an in-person swim assessment.”

When undertaking the questionnaire, members of the community will enjoy a more time-effective experience with the process only taking a few minutes to complete.

This is an improvement on the previous process, where response times may take up to 48 hours, followed by more back and forth interactions.

The interactive platform has also been designed by students to give swim staff a significant starting point by providing an instant response to customers with an exact lesson time.

“A big benefit of the platform is the video content that is built into each questionnaire where certain terminology can be confusing when asking simple questions over the phone,” Haddock said.

“In addition, to be able to accurately level students to a class that fits their swimming ability while maintaining a suitable challenge motivates students to stay in a Learn to Swim program, and ultimately creates a more positive and safe experience around water.

“The questionnaire finishes by gathering further personal information and the availability of users, cutting down greatly the normal back and forth that can occur over email.”

Haddock praised the work of the La Trobe students throughout the process of developing the Industry Student Project, which will be presented with a number of other computing techniques and technology projects at the Engineering and IT Showcase.

“The La Trobe students have been hard at work delivering presentations,” Haddock said.

“(They’ve been) digging into important questions based on the brief and subsequent feedback provided by the La Trobe Sport Community Programs team.

We can’t wait to see the end result and roll it out to the community.”

La Trobe students are working to deliver the project with the ultimate goal of inclusivity and accessibility for all members of the community. The new program is expected to roll out in Term 1 2022, as part of the transition to an updated La Trobe Swim School framework.

For more information on the virtual 2021 Engineering and IT Showcase taking place on Wednesday 17 November, click here.