The swimming ability of 4128 Queensland school children was studied. The median age for swimming 10 metres is 6.5 years. Ninety-five percent of children are able to swim by 11 years of age. Cumulative frequency curves, by age, are presented for the ability to swim 10 and 50 metres: the latter distance is of relevance in boating accidents. Twenty percent fewer children from lower socioeconomic levels are able to swim. Water safety training is as important as swimming lessons.