By Michael Giles

IT’S a proud boast of Surf Lifesaving Victoria that no one has ever drowned on a Victorian beach while swimming between the flags.
So, the message is pretty simple.
If you’ve got kids or people in your group without a recognised surf lifesaving qualification (or a surfboard or boggie board lashed to their ankle or wrist), you need to head for the beaches that are patrolled over the summer.
And swim between the flags.
Of course there are relatively safe beaches for swimming like Waratah Bay, especially at Sandy Point, and the main surf beach at Inverloch, where you can swim in relative safety.
But the surf beaches at Venus Bay, Kilcunda and Woolamai can be treacherous at times, and dangerous at all other times. If you must take the family to these locations, swimming between the flags isn’t simply an option, it’s a must!
How often though, have you seen a family arrive at the beach at Venus Bay or Woolamai for example, and the kids run on ahead to get into the water?
There are also those family groups who seek the seclusion of our more remote beaches, at their peril.
Accidents can and will happen from time to time and we have seen a couple of absolute tragedies in the past week but the government, to its credit, has been promoting the water safety message hard in the run up to the summer.
Via the education department, they also get kids through the basics of swimming and water safety at school but perhaps there is more that can be done directly at our beaches through the use of volunteer groups distributing pamphlets and water safety leaflets at our key beaches.
But regardless of the impact water safety, swimming, promotion or advertising campaigns – one simple message remains – swim between the flags.