FORMER Australian Olympic swimmer James Magnussen has been named as the ambassador for Royal Life Saving NSW's 2019-2020 "Stay Safe Summer" campaign.
The two-time world champion and Olympic silver medallist said that being properly prepared for the water during the hot summer months is crucial.
"We want everyone to enjoy our beautiful waterways this summer but it's vital, whether you are an Olympic level swimmer or not, that you know your limitations," Magnussen said.
"Blokes tend to take the most risks, the statistics show that, so keep an eye out for your family and friends and please learn to swim, it's a skill for life."
There were 46 drowning deaths in New South Wales during last summer. Rivers accounted for more fatalities than beach-related incidents. Men accounted for almost 80 per cent of last summer's fatalities, with the 45-54 age group at most risk.
Across the 12 months from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019, 98 people lost their lives in the state's waterways.
RLSNSW chief executive Michael Ilinsky said the numbers don't lie.
"It doesn't matter where you swim, you can get in trouble in a swimming pool just as much as a dam, creek or river. We encourage everyone to enjoy our waterways but let's do it safely by making sure of a few simple things," Ilinsky said.
"Of great concern to us is the significant number of people who get into trouble and are classified as poor or non-swimmers; you have to know your limitations," Mr Ilinsky added.
He said it doesn't matter if people are swimming, boating, fishing or water skiing this summer, everyone should be prepared.
Drowning deaths in the past five years across New South Wales highlight the susceptibility of ageing Australians, multicultural groups and people using waterways in regional and remote areas.
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