OLYMPIC golden girl Libby Trickett has joined other swimming identities urging for swimming lessons to be made compulsory.
The multiple gold medallist and world record holder said the State Government should subsidise primary school swimming programs after a growing number of school-age drownings.
The London 2012 comeback queen said it was surprising schools did not already have compulsory swimming lessons.
"I think it's incredibly important to teach children as young as possible how to swim," she said.
"I, personally, think it should come from the Government. Not every family can afford to send their children to have lessons."
It comes as Victorian primary school principals urge the Government to subsidise school swimming lessons as cash-strapped parents pull their children from costly programs.
The drowning rate of 5-14-year-olds has soared almost 70 per cent from 2006-11, compared with the first half of the decade.
Trickett joined breaststroker Samantha Riley, sprint swimmer Eamon Sullivan, Paralympian Matthew Cowdrey, sisters Cate and Bronte Campbell and fellow London squad members Brenton Rickard and Melanie Schlanger in calling for change.
Rickard said the onus should rest on the Government. "(It) will save lives," he said.
Federal School Education, Early Childhood and Youth Minister Peter Garrett has backed a Surf Life Saving Australia petition to urge all governments to make lessons mandatory.
He said water safety skills were at the heart of a new draft Australian Curriculum for Health and Physical Education this month. But Mr Garrett's spokeswoman, Lisa Miller, said it was up to schools to decide who should pay for lessons.
Read more on the Herald Sun.