In 2018, the University of Ottawa’s Sports Services department implemented an educational campaign on campus, to promote safe water practices and to prevent drowning. Through a collaborative approach working with partners on and off campus, Sports Services promoted key messages and resources to the campus population. In recognition of its efforts, the Lifesaving Society of Ontario awarded the University of Ottawa with its prestigious Water Smart Award for 2018.
Sports Services provides a safe swimming space for the local community, year-round. Every day, students and employees swim laps in the Montpetit Hall Olympic-sized pool, under the watchful eye of our lifeguards. This also where you will find our Gee-Gees athletes training, from the varsity swimming, waterpolo and artistic swimming teams.
“Swimming is a life skill. All uOttawa students, faculty and staff should learn how to swim,” said Sean Duffy, Sports Services’ Aquatic Coordinator. During the Water Smart Campus campaign, Sports Services put up posters in facilities and on display screens across campus, to remind parents to provide direct supervision of their children and use layers of protection, and by posting drowning statistics near Sports Services’ Client Services desks. Even Gee-Gees Campers participated in an art project to promote water safety to their peers.
The statistics are an eye-opening reminder. Drowning continues to be a leading cause of death and serious injury for Canadians and almost 500 Canadians die from drowning every year. A large at-risk demographic are young adults between 18 and 34 years. Considering that a large portion of the university’s student and staff population fits under this category, the campus is a prime location to promote these important messages. The university campus is near several bodies of water, such as the Rideau Canal and River, and the Ottawa River, and drowning risks are even present in our own backyard.
With summer approaching, Sports Services will continue to promote the water safety message across campus. Students, faculty and staff should remain vigilant when in and around the water this season. Visit our aquatic webpages to stay up to date on swimming programs.