Author Archive Natasha

We DON’T dunk, throw or teach bubble blowing in our lessons!

We AGREE that children should not be thrown or dunked into any body of water or taught bubble blowing from a young age.

In the latest SMH article “Swimming champion urges rethink on the ‘traumatising’ way we teach children to swim”, Journalist Julie Powers references a survey of the parents of 14,000 children enrolling in swimming classes by water safety experts Dr Amy Peden and Dr Richard Franklin which found nearly 4 per cent of children had prior negative experiences many of these involved falls into water, instructor neglect and a non fatal drowning experience which resulted in the child having to be rescued. According to Royal Life Saving Australia Drowning Report 2023, Falls into water remain the leading activity prior to drowning for children aged 0-4 years which accounts for nearly 70% of toddler drowning deaths. We need to be actively teaching parents and carers how to prevent these aquatic emergencies and provide infants and young children with the opportunity to undertake progressive aquatic survival skill development that considers the experiences and activities that they may be exposed to in the future and provide them with a core set of skills that can be utilised in times of need.

? SURVIVAL FIRST. Children need to learn how to survive in water before they swim in it because drowning does not occur due to a lack of swimming skills. It occurs when a person is not able to hold and maintain an effective body position for breathing. That is why at Kids Aquatic Survival School (KASS), we focus on survival skills as the best foundation for learn to swim.

? NO BUBBLE BLOWING. Children need air in their lungs for buoyancy. It is unsafe for an infant to blow bubbles as this dramatically limits the time they could hold their breath if they ever got into trouble. Children under the age of 2 are not yet physically capable of independently lifting their head out of the water to take a breath.

? BREATH IS LIFE. Our core focus is to ensure children learn how to gain and maintain a position of safe breathing. We teach children to self-rescue from a disorientation in water which involves rolling from their front to their back, so they are not face down and are able to breathe and remain in that floating breathing posture until help arrives. If the child is stronger, capable and safety is within reach, we teach them to roll back to their front and swim a few basic front paddle strokes and always back to their back to breathe and repeat this sequence of swimming and floating until they reach safety. Children also have the opportunity to practice reaching and holding techniques, so they will be able to successfully hold on to the side of the pool or safety which might be a log in a river or pier at the beach or lake.

? GENTLE APPROACH. At KASS, children are not thrown into the water. We do not use force. We facilitate a child to learn to feel the water and understand how it supports them and how to move through it. We focus on a child’s natural buoyancy to help them float independently. Children learn breath control, in a gentle and supportive environment and once competent, progress to the next stage of learning to float on their back. Nearing the end of the program the child learns to orientate themselves through guided prompts and procedures to grab the wall/edge. The child is facilitated in the water through special non-verbal techniques, in a safe and controlled environment which they respond to as a result of operant conditioning.We aim to teach competence through tailoring to the individual child and progress incrementally through positive reinforcement. KASS lessons are designed to set the child up for success and this in turn builds self-esteem.

? SUPERVISION. KASS lessons are delivered privately 1 on 1 so the child is able to learn at their own pace and become comfortable in the water as they build on their skills and accomplish new skills. The instructor has 100% focus on the child 100% of the time to ensure they respond appropriately to the specialised prompts and procedures.

? FLOATING IS A SURVIVAL SKILL. At KASS, we advocate that Back Floating is a life-saving skill. It is a simple, low-energy way of being able to breathe. It also transitions into other swimming techniques. Being able to float also promotes proper breathing techniques, which works to keep kids calm in the water and reduces fatigue.Learning to back float might not be the preferred position in the water for a child. However, long term, it is a skill which could save their life. Maintaining a horizontal position in water allows a person to breathe, sustain energy or propel through the water should they be able to reach safety.#Floatingsaveslives

Breath Control

Final test in clothes once child is fully competent in survival

At KASS we have and always will focus on learned breath control as a priority in all lessons.

Before any child moves through the path of lessons, they are taught to take a breath and hold their breath before being submerged. This is done through physical, non-verbal prompts to assist in the process.

Everything we do in the water as humans is a learned behaviour. This is achieved by positively reinforcing the correct behaviours. Instinctively when someone is in the water they will try and get air however most children under the age of 3 are not yet physically capable of independently lifting their head out of the water to take a breath. The reason we teach them to roll, float and breathe.

Once the child has learnt this behaviour, the physical stimuli can be removed as the environment, being the water, now provides the tactile sensory for the child. For example, as the child feels the water rising past their stomach, chest, neck, chin, towards their head prompts the child to hold their breath before a submersion. The same with releasing the breath. Once the child feels their face break through the surface of the water, they release their breath.

This practice keeps air inside the lunge, which in turn, increases buoyancy. If a baby or young child has lungs full of air, they will stay close to the surface easier, giving them time in an aquatic emergency.


Swimming out of your comfort zone

We are all guilty of continuing to do things we are comfortable with because it feels familiar, safe and secure. Each of us has our own comfort zone, be it psychological, emotional or behavioural.

By stepping out of our comfort zone we challenge ourselves to transition, grow, transform and ultimately create change.

Many of the skills taught through the Kids Aquatic Survival School (KASS) survival program, will be the first time a child has been required to perform. Such as;

  1. Being in the water
  2. Being in the water without their parent
  3. Floating assisted on their back
  4. Putting their face underwater

Many children might find these tasks challenging which may be outside of their comfort zone, but it is certainly within their capabilities.

At KASS, children are taught in a positive and safe environment through small incremental changes. We also make every lesson count, so the child is taught a new skill, which challenges them. KASS ensures the child makes a successful attempt at each skill presented, in order to create a positive learning experience. Each small change accumulates and builds upon the last one and with time, reassurance, patience and given the opportunity, children can and do achieve amazing life saving skills.

Please call 1800 543 779 or email [email protected]u to book your child into our accelerated Survival Program tailored to infants from 6 months to 6 years of age.

Barbara’s story

Barbara is a 3.5 year old girl from the Philippines. She is from a non-English speaking family and came to Australia only six months ago.

Back home, Barbara experienced a non-fatal drowning incident which involved falling into a body of water. Her mother watched helplessly as she herself could not swim and was unable to rescue her. Thankfully a neighbour moved swiftly and jumped to Barbara’s rescue.

In the Philippines, drowning is a leading killer with an average of 3,276 deaths per year. Many children live near open water sources, such as ponds, irrigation channels, rivers or have uncovered open wells. More children aged 5-14 years die from drowning than from any other cause.

Fatal and non-fatal drownings are not accurately reported in the Philippines as many low and middle-income families cannot afford medical bills associated with hospitalisation and funerals.

Just two months after arriving in Australia, Barbara’s mother enrolled her into the Survival and Learn to Swim Program with Kids Aquatic Survival School (KASS).

In just five weeks, Barbara learnt to roll from front to back to breathe and remain in a floating breathing posture until help arrives. She further learnt to roll back to front and swim and repeat this sequence of swimming and floating until she reaches safety or the edge.

Barbara learnt all of this with Kids Aquatic Survival School in 25 lessons and remarkably without speaking or understanding English.

That’s what makes the KASS Survival and Learn to Swim Program so unique. The skills Barbara learnt are taught through non-verbal prompts and procedures. So, should Barabra ever find herself in an aquatic emergency, she knows to respond to the environment not the instructor. Barbara is not a strong swimmer, but she now understands when faced with a dangerous aquatic environment, to float calmly and not panic.

Before Barbara and her mother return home to the Philippines, Mum is continuing to reinforce the survival skills with Barbara and also learning to swim here in Australia. Both mother and child can then translate these life-saving survival skills to their community back home and help further educate everyone on the importance of water safety.

Because, together education and skills are vital in achieving zero drownings.

Watch Barbara’s Story full story here on our YouTube page @KidsAquaticSurvivalSchool

No Floatation Devices

Floatation devices such as swim vests, arm bands, puddle jumper, water wings or swim trainers are NOT a substitute for supervision. They can give a child a false sense of security in water and create dependant behaviour of being vertical in water.

Unfortunately, the child is not able to stay vertical in the water without them. Infants and children do not have the strength to hold their head up in water. Should they fall into water, which happens to nearly 80% of children who drown, they won’t understand their own buoyancy.

Floatation devices allow children to be in the water for such a long time with their head up, eyes ahead, swimming around comfortably. Then when you take the aids off, they are unable to maintain this posture without them on. Generally speaking most infants that fall into water don’t have these devises on.

At Kids Aquatic Survival School (KASS) we want children to have a realistic perception of what they can do in the water. KASS lessons do not use any floatation devices, aids or goggles when a child is learning the KASS survival and learn to swim program.


– Children become accustom to them
– Creates a false sense of security
– Create a dependent behaviour
– They don’t allow the child to understand their buoyancy in the water
– They are comforts kids won’t have if they accidentally fall into a body of water


Call 1800 543 779 or email [email protected] to learn more and book your child into our accelerated survival program to increase their water safety.


#survivalswimming #swimfloatswim #swimfloatsurvive#drowningprevention #kidsaquaticsurvivalschool #nomoredrownings


Aquatic Behaviour

Water safety is an attitude that is built up through repeated experiences. Therefore, BEHAVIOUR in and around water is very IMPORTANT.

The commonly referred terms include head first entries, jumping entries both of which encourage the child to jump and submerge into water whilst the instructor or parent rescues them.

The association of “1,2,3 jump” and I will catch you, is creating a DANGEROUS behaviour for children in and around water. Furthermore, teaching children to associate nursery rhymes and songs such as “humpty dumpty” whilst they fall into the water and rescued by their parents is giving children a false sense of security, because what happens when the parent is not there to catch them?

Children are inherently curious and inquisitive. They don’t perceive danger or have the knowledge to assess an environment to be safe or unsafe. As parents/carers, educators and as a community it is our job to protect them. That doesn’t mean we should remove all possible dangers, because that isn’t reality. We need to equip our children with the skills and knowledge to respond appropriately to dangerous situations and environments. Although certain explorative behaviours are normal, parents and caregivers must provide adequate supervision at all times.

In Australia, 100% of toddler drownings occur when the child is not being supervised and nearly 80% of drownings in young children occur due to FALLS INTO WATER. Yes, we need to be introducing children to safe entry practices, but most importantly the child needs to be skilled to SURVIVE in the water BEFORE they are taught to enter independently.

That’s why at Kids Aquatic Survival School we don’t encourage children to jump into water until fully skilled.


Turn, Reach & Grab Safety

KASS lessons provide students with safe, effective opportunities to learn about being in the water and how to respond appropriately to the demands placed on them by that environment.

One of the many vital survival skills we teach children in the KASS Survival and Learn to Swim Program is to turn, reach and grab safety.

At KASS lessons, the training environment is the pool, and therefore safety is the pool edge. This helps to show the child that the wall is secure and safe.

At KASS we discuss goals with the parent and how we intend to realise those goals based on what we observe their child doing in the water each lesson. We teach children the turn, reach and grab safety survival skill by placing the child in different positions in the pool and prompt the child to turn to the wall, which we refer to as wall turns.

Initially the child is placed on different angles to the wall with one of the child’s hands on the wall and his face above the water. The child is placed not facing directly at the wall. They are placed in the water at a slight angle and they have to work on turning and grabbing onto the wall. Every time the child grabs the wall they are to hold with two hands this encourages them to use two hands to hold the wall no matter how they grab onto the wall.

As the child masters one skill we then increase the difficultly in small increments. This would involve a greater distance from the wall so the child’s hand does not touch it and our proximity to the child, so the child begins to problem solve and use the learned aquatic survival skills to reach the wall and grab the edge. We then increase the difficulty again and progress to a sit-in whereby the child in placed into the water from a sitting position out of the water on the pool edge.

The child is always encouraged to turn to the wall/pool edge, NOT the instructor.

We want children to identify the pool edge as safety, because the instructor or parent won’t be in the water with them in an aquatic emergency such as should they accidentally fall into water unnoticed, which is how nearly 80% of toddlers in Australia drown.

Call 1800 543 779 or email [email protected] to learn more about the KASS Survival and Learn to Swim Program

Watch a video explaining the survival technique “turn, reach and grab” here









Safety before Smiles

Young children are inherently curious, inquisitive and don’t generally perceive danger. Therefore, as parents we understand the need to set firm boundaries in order to keep our children safe.

Firm boundaries such as, children must be secure in a car seat at all times in a car. When crossing the road, we would ask the child to hold our hand. Many of these boundaries we implement because they are the law, and/or we know these boundaries keep our children safe. Boundaries which we know affect our child’s safety, which we consistently reinforce and are not negotiable.

We need to mirror these same firm, consistent boundaries in an aquatic environment to increase awareness of everyday risks in, on and around water and positively change behaviours and save children’s lives.

According to Royal Life Saving Drowning Report, in Australia, children under the age of 5 years are at the highest risk of drowning, with home backyard swimming pools the leading location for drowning fatalities.

Strategies for prevention include;

  • Active adult supervision
  • Restricting a child’s access to water
  • Water awareness
  • Resuscitation

With a 56% increase in drownings this summer, it is evident that there is still much to do: the tragedy of accidental drowning, which tears families apart, still exists.

“Many Australian children enter into an aquatic experience without any understanding of their personal capabilities or limitations….It is vitally important we provide children with the opportunity to undertake progressive aquatic skill development that considers the experiences and activities that they may be exposed to in the future and provide them with a core set of skills that can be utilised in times of need.” Royal Life Saving NSW

We need to understand how, where and why children drown in order to address the water safety and survival swimming skills our children must learn to prevent such drownings.

  • 64% of toddler drownings occur when the child is not being supervised
  • Accidental falls into water remain the leading activity prior to drowning among children under 5 years
  • Swimming pools account for 67% of all drowning deaths among children under 5 years of age.
  • The child drowned in the pool at their primary residence in 71% of cases

Water safety education is vital.  The skills taught need to be realistic for the chid, given their age and aquatic environment. They need to learn to respect the water and have a realistic understanding of their limits and capabilities.

At Kids Aquatic Survival School, we believe, the focus on “SWIMMING” lessons needs to shift to SURVIVAL lessons. Children need to learn how to SURVIVE in water before they learn to SWIM in it. If a child is always held in the water or uses flotation devices, it can create a false sense of security leading to over confident child with little or no water competence. Water confidence without competence is a dangerous combination.

We teach water competence with a strong focus on survival as the best foundation for a child’s water safety education. We believe teaching survival skills today provides children with a safer tomorrow, so as they are graduating through life from childhood to adolescence, they understand their limitations and don’t over estimate their abilities.

At KASS, competence in survival means the ability to independently;

  • recover from a fall into water
  • roll from front to back
  • float and maintain a back float for at least 60 seconds
  • swim and float in a sequence until they reach safety (if walking age)

We appreciate when teaching life-saving skills such as survival and learn to swim that tears and tantrums may occur. We know that sometimes those tears are often because the child is in a new environment, around new people, tired, unwell or just generally having a bad day. Most children express this emotion through crying and depending on age this may be the child’s only form of communication.

Some children might resist and exert independence in survival swimming lessons, much like when you buckle your child in a car seat. It is a safety precaution, giving your child the best possible chance of survival. Teaching your child boundaries and behavioural expectation in water is just as important as out of water safety precautions. Understanding and validating those feelings can create a positive change in a child’s mood allowing for a progressive lesson. In time as skills are mastered and children learn to manage in the water, the pool no longer seems like such an overwhelming and scary place because the skilled child now poses a level of understanding and confidence.

Eventually the tears fade and are replaced with smiles but more importantly the skills to survive.


Reality Check

The 2019 Royal Life Saving Drowning Report was released this month and it’s a crude and shocking reminder of the lives lost and the lives left behind forever morning their loved ones to a preventable death.

860 drowning incidents occurred in Australia 2018-2019.

New South Wales recorded the highest record of fatal drowning deaths, 98.

It’s not a number. These are people.

Tragically 276 fatal drownings and a further 584 experienced a non fatal drowning which could result in brain damage and/or long term disabilities according to the Royal Life Saving Drowning Report 2019.


19 of those lives lost were children aged 0 – 4 years and based on the above statistics a further 40 children would have been hospitalised.


That’s a BUS full of kids, or

Over 4 x Rugby League teams, or

2 x FULL kindergarten classes.


The main activity prior to drowning for children aged 0 – 4 years is FALLS INTO WATER which usually happens in SWIMMING POOLS.

This could be at

  1. Home backyard pool
  2. Friends or Relatives
  3. Neighbours
  4. Family Day Care
  5. Public pool
  6. Resort/hotel pool when on holidays


Any of the above locations require ACTIVE ADULT SUPERVISION 100% of the time when children are IN or AROUND water.

However, consider this common scenario:

  1. You’re at a friend’s house who has a backyard pool. Adults talking in the kitchen having a cup of tea and kids safely playing in the bedroom or lounge nearby.
  2. Children decide they want to play outside. They gain access via an unlocked or open door or climb through a pet door. A fun game between friends. They work together and carry a plastic chair to the pool fence. One climbs on the chair, reaches the latch, pulls, unlocks and opens the gate. Both toddlers now have access to water in UNDER 60 seconds.
  3. Parents start to think the kids are quiet and look around the house…..

It’s happens that quickly.

If your child could recover from a fall into water, roll from their front to the back and remaining in a floating and breathing posture for 60 seconds it might give that parent enough time to realise they are not inside the house and check the pool. Hopefully to find their child calmly, safely floating face up in the water.

Yes, other barriers to entry are necessary. But this skill is the last barrier. The last option for your child. If they did not have this skill, the last option would be finding your child face down. And a child face down, lifeless and blue is another statistic.

Swimming Progression

Children’s swimming progression in the KASS Survival and Learn to Swim Program is accelerated.

In just WEEKS parents see results.

Once children finish the intensive KASS Survival and Learn to Swim Program and commence weekly KASS Transitional lessons, their progression may appear slower.

This is due to Transitional lessons becoming more technical and skill based. Whilst the survival skills initially taught are difficult, survival skills are essential in forming the foundation for safety in and around water and learning stroke.

The progression to stroke development lessons at KASS also involves more coordination, muscle memory and strength which for each child varies and can impact their progression.

Read more about what type of swimming lessons are suitable for your child here