Ocean Junction - Safe Water Adventure Series: Meet Laurie Lawrence…

Ocean Junction - Safe Water Adventure Series: Meet Laurie Lawrence…

Ocean Junction - Safe Water Adventure Series

One of our missions at Ocean Junction is to foster a passion for adventure and to promote healthy, active lifestyles. We believe that everyone should have access to sport and outdoor adventure. As part of that mission we believe strongly that water safety is a life skill that every individual should have, which will enable them to live the adventure life of their choosing. The purpose of this series is to feature individuals, swim schools, and companies who live and breathe water safety and who make safe swimming accessible to everyone. Our first blog in this series features one of the pioneers in the promotion of water safety.


Meet Laurie Lawrence…


Meet Laurie Lawrence…


An Australian hero who has athletic accolades that will make your head spin. From international Rugby player to Olympic swim coach, and Australian Olympic team mentor.

He has represented Australia at 8 Olympic Games and has coached swimmers to numerous Olympic medals and 23 world records! Swimmers he has helped have won 10 gold, 11 silver and 12 Olympic bronze medals. He was part of Australia’s Olympic coaching team for the 1984, 1988, and 1992 Olympic games. Lawrence was inducted into the Australian Sports Hall of Fame in 1991 and was awarded an Australian Sports Medal in 2000. He has also been inducted into ISHOF for coaching and contribution to infant aquatics.


Nowadays, Lawrence is well-known throughout Australia for his Kids Alive-Do the Five program, designed to prevent drowning deaths in children under five. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children under five in Australia. The Kids Alive program has seen the annual number of deaths reduce from 63 to 18 in 2018, but Lawrence says,

“There’s still a long way to go our target is zero deaths by drowning”.  


Lawrence grew up around pools and swimming. As a young child Lawrence was sickly, his doctor recommended that he swim to strengthen his lungs. Stumpy Lawrence, his father, immediately changed jobs and became the manager of the Townsville Memorial Tobruk Pool, which would become the training grounds for the Australian Olympic swim team in 1956 and 1960.Young Lawrence now had a front row seat to the training sessions of swimming legends such as Dawn Fraser, Murray Rose, Jon Konrads, David Theile, Lorraine Crapp, Jon Henricks, and Kevin Berry. Lawrence credits these early experiences of watching his heroes train, billeting and giving up his bed to Jon Henricks as igniting his passion and love of swimming. Lawrence went on to become a successful swim coach, coached Olympic and world champions before developing Laurie Lawrence swim schools.


In 1988, after the birth of his kids, water safety and drowning prevention became more salient for Lawrence and he developed the Kids Alive-Do the Five water safety program to combat drowning. He started with the five main points-the five causes of most drownings:


  1. Unfenced or poorly fenced pools,

  2. Open gates,

  3. Lack of swimming skill,

  4. Lack of supervision, and,

  5. Lack of CPR skill.


His cousin came up with the catchy Kids-Alive-Do the Five idea and Lawrence had a poet friend, Robert Raftery add the touches to make it memorable.

  1. Fence the Pool

  2. Shut the Gate

  3. Teach your kids to swim. It’s great!

  4. Supervise! Watch your mate

  5. And learn how to resuscitate


Dave Avery, who wrote the famous George Thorogood song “Get a Haircut and Get a Real Job,” composed the music for the Kids Alive jingle. The jingle is catchy, clear, and concise and has helped spread Lawrence’s message about drowning prevention.



Lawrence’s message took off in the year 2000 when Prime Minister John Howard helped Lawrence launch the program nationally. The Kids Alive pantomime was the biggest free touring show in Australia. The show has visited hundreds of cities, towns and communities Australia wide and has been played to more than 225,000 students. The Kids Alive program is available online and in an app form to make drowning prevention information available at your fingertips for free.


Lawrence’s pursuit of zero drowning deaths has led him to be relentless in pursuing knowledge on swimming, drowning prevention, and spreading his message. As a result, he worked with Professor Robyn Jorgensen who did a longitudinal study on infant aquatics in 2013. She found that children who were taught to swim were up to 10 months ahead of their peers socially, emotionally, physically and intellectually by the time they attended Kindergarten (prep in Australia).

This work helped Lawrence secure funding to create a Water Safety DVD, which is available to every newborn child and their parents, FREE of charge, in Australia via the Bounty Bag.

After distributing 2.5 million DVDs Lawrence and his team have decided to replace it with a new “Living with Water” book for parents to read to their babies.

In Canada, we have also seen a significant decrease in drowning deaths over the last 20 years. However, the number remains high. According to the 2016 Canadian Drowning report, between 2009 and 2013, 2364 children, youth and adults lost their lives in Canadian waters. Unlike Australia, the majority (74%) of drowning deaths in Canada occur in natural bodies of water (lakes, rivers, oceans, etc.). While pool drownings only accounted for 7% of drowning deaths between 2009 and 2013, 86% of pool drownings occurred in private pools. This continues to be the primary setting where children under the age of 5 most often drown. The greatest risk factors for drowning deaths for young children in Canada is lack of adult supervision or distracted supervision. Lawrence’s 5 points are therefore highly relevant!

Here at Ocean Junction, we value water safety and are excited to share with you, the remarkable Laurie Lawrence’s five simple steps that have significantly decreased drowning deaths in Australia. Our hope is to make this knowledge go viral as it has in Australia and help push the movement towards zero drowning deaths.


Kids Alive-Do the Five


  1. Fence the pool

  2. Shut the gate

  3. Teach your kids to swim-it’s great

  4. Supervise- watch your mate

  5. Lear how to resuscitate


Check out the Kids Alive website for many more videos and water safety resources.


For a limited time use the code KidsAlive to receive 20% off our Starfish and  Starfish Junior Mask. Both of these goggles are endorsed by Laurie Lawrence and the Kids Alive do the Five water safety initiative so these goggles also promote an important message! They are great for your young swimmers, made with high grade silicone. They are confortable, come in fun colours, and offer great visibility.

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