Image and story: Margaret Burin - ABC
The World Health Organisation estimated that in 2015 around 360,000 people died from drowning, with over half of those deaths occurring in the Pacific and South-East Asia regions.
As part of the Australian aid-funded Pacific Sports Partnerships program, The Oceania Swimming Association is trying to make water safety a part of the school curriculum, while also encouraging people that it's never too late to learn.
In this ABC International Development story, we meet Ruby.
While Ruby lives on an island nation renowned for its beautiful beaches, up until now the 62-year-old has lived in fear of them.
Decades after a traumatic childhood experience, aqua aerobics is helping this Fijian woman overcome a lifelong fear of the water thanks to the DFAT funded Pacific Sports Partnerships program.
Just two years ago, Ruby would have never believed that she'd come to love being in the water.
But over the past 12 months she's been dipping her toes in, quite literally, during aqua aerobics classes run in Suva.
"When I first came to morning tea I would just look at the pool, I wouldn't go anywhere near it, because the fear of my mother would come back.
"I saw them enjoying it and thought, why can't I enjoy it?
"It's all in the mind."
Ruby's face now is filled with pure joy as she bounces around the shallows.
"It feels good," says Ruby as she lifts her legs off the pool floor, trusting the pink noodle carrying her weight.
"The first time I put my face in the water I was a bit scared. I thought that I was going to die, that I was not coming up again.
"I have overcome that fear. There was nothing to it, why didn't I try earlier on?
"There's nothing like feeling the water on you."
Read more here: Fiji Aqua Aerobics