Muscle memory and Swimming

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‘Muscle memory’ is an unconscious process. It is the movement which muscles become accustomed to over time. With practice, skeletal muscle activity that is learned can become essentially automatic due to the neuromuscular system memorising the motor skills.

Babies are not born with muscle memory. They are not born with the ability to crawl or walk. As a child becomes skilled at walking they fall down less, become better at balancing and are then able to incorporate more coordinated activities such as running and jumping.

Therefore, the only way for a baby to learn muscle memory is to physically practice with trial and error. We want infants and young children to perform their learned aquatic survival skills instinctively and automatically when needed.

At KASS, we encourage correct form from the beginning of a child’s survival and learn to swim experience. If you don’t use correct form at the start you can enhance bad habits. For example, an older child who had been previously taught to swim in a vertical position lifting their head to breathe would be considered a bad habit. Such bad habits can seriously disrupt and damage the associated muscle memory and can take time to break. However, with conscious effort it can be successfully overridden. KASS place emphasis on the new skill that is to replace the previous habit until the new muscle memory pattern is established. This is why the KASS survival and learn to swim program is taught 5 days a week for at least 40 x 10 minute lessons. It takes strong concentration by the instructor and consistency from the child to change current muscle memory.

At KASS, our instructors are trained in child development and learning theory, behavioural science, anatomy, physiology and physics as they relate to infants and young children in the aquatic environment. They can therefore associate this training and apply to the three stages of the motor learning process:
1. Cognitive Stage: The cognitive stage begins when the learner is first introduced to the motor task.
2. Associative Stage: The associative stage is where the practice of the skill begins.
3. Autonomous Stage: The autonomous stage is characterised by executing the skill automatically with no conscious thought.

Once actions are memorised by the brain, the muscles must be trained to act in a quick, fluid manner; (Mack, 2012). This is key because it lowers the time between when the brain decides to complete a movement to when the muscles actually start to move.

From our experience in teaching children the KASS survival and learn to swim program, children can develop this muscle memory in weeks with consistency and commitment. Our ultimate goal is from the program, is for the child to apply their skill as an automated process and instinctively orientate themselves in water, to roll into a back float, rest, breathe and be safe.

References:
Ellis-Christensen, T. (2012). What is Muscle Memory. Available: http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-muscle-memory.htm. Last accessed 2nd Dec 2012.
Mack, S. (2012). Does Muscle Memory Affect The Percentage in Basketball? Available: http://www.livestrong.com/article/448564-muscle-memory-affect-percentage-basketball/#ixzz26i9yQVFS. Last accessed 2nd Dec 2012.
Morley, K. (2012). Muscle Memory. Available: http://sportsnscience.utah.edu/musclememory/. Last accessed 2nd Dec 2012.
Shadmehr, R and Brashers-Krug, T. (1997). Functional Stages in the Formation of Human Long-Term Motor Memory. The Journal of Neuroscience. 17 (1), p409-419.
Muscle Memory: A Coaches Perspective

http://www.dna-sports-performance.com/muscle-memory-a-coaches-perspective/

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Swimming older children

We have many children aged 5 years + that come to KASS from years of traditional swimming lessons. Some have been taught:
1. Wearing floatation devices
2. With Parents in the water with them
3. Wearing goggles
4. In a vertical swimming position. Whereby the child lifts their head to breathe and generally swims in a vertical position rather than horizontally.

The above-mentioned are aids we do not use in our KASS survival program and therefore when the child commences lessons with KASS, they might be out of their comfort zone initially. Once these bad habits (if any) have been overcome, we find older children progress very quickly as they are usually already water aware.

When infants and young children commence swimming lessons with KASS we encourage them to roll over to float for every breath. With older children they may not need to roll over for every breath as they have the strength to lift their head. We therefore, encourage the child to swim horizontally with their head down in the water, take a breath and again head down to swim.

Older children still need to be able to hold and maintain a floating position in order to rest if safety or the edge is too far to swim continuously. This enables the child to break up a large swim distance into shorter more frequently swims.

In addition, older children may refuse to open their eyes under water without goggles. At KASS we want children to be comfortable to swim without goggles and they are not permitted whilst undertaking survival training. The reasoning behind this is should a child accidentally fall into water, they may not be wearing goggles and we want the child to not panic and open their eyes to see where the steps, edge or safety is.

Further details on why KASS say no to goggles is explained in our most recent blog ‘No Goggles’

Call 1800 543 779 or email info@infantswim.com.au to book your child into our accelerated survival program to increase their water safety.

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No Bubble Blowing

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AT KASS we DON’T teach children to Blow Bubbles in lessons

Why? 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. They also need air in their lungs for buoyancy.

At KASS we have and ALWAYS will focus on learned breath control as a FIRST priority in all lessons. Breath control is a child’s ability to hold their breath before they go under the water. KASS also teach children to roll over and float if they need to take a breath. As most children under the age of 2 are not yet physically capable of independently lifting their head out of the water to take a breath.

In our experience and through the way we teach breath control to children through our survival program, we have not found the need to teach infants and toddlers to blow bubbles. Teaching a child to blow bubbles too early makes them less safe and can cause a range of problems. This is one of many reasons that we don’t teach survival lessons to children who are aged under 6 months. We use specific methods to establish breath control and teach children to hold their breath when their mouth and nose is submerged in water. 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. Blowing bubbles teaches infants to empty their lungs, which increases the chance of sinking under water faster.

The theory is that blowing bubbles to release air keeps children from inhaling water (aspirating).  The reality is, when a child is properly taught breath control with correct professional instruction from the beginning, their body automatically protects itself from water going into the lungs. In our lessons, children learn to respond to the natural environment rather than a person.

Over 13 years of teaching a full range of children including children with special needs, we are yet to encounter a child that has not responded to our methods of establishing breath control. In our opinion, teaching a child to blow bubbles too early makes them less safe and can cause a range of problems. Babies need to hold their breath so they can submerge and swim distances. Blowing bubbles will increase the chance of the baby inhaling and ingesting water. At KASS, we wait until breath control is well mastered before we teach children to exhale their bubbles underwater. By the bubble blowing stage the child has already learnt breath control, swimming to the edge or safety and independent floating. At this point they progress onto transitional lessons where diving for submerged objects and stroke is introduced and the slow release of breath is monitored and instructed.

This is now industry knowledge. Even our biggest critic, Laurie Laurence has shifted his swim teaching philosophy and no longer condones bubble blowing under 2 years in his lessons, because he “noticed that as soon as babies blow out their bubbles then they must take a breath in”. (See article link below).

At KASS we are always looking at continual improvement with keeping the child’s safety always paramount.

Call 1800 543 779 or email info@infantswim.com.au to book your child into our accelerated survival program to increase their water safety.

Reference: worldwideswimschool.com/blowing-bubbles-2-years-4-months/

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What are the most suitable swim lessons for my child?

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The decision on the type of swim lessons for a child is a personal decision many new and existing parents struggle with and admit to facing hurdles such as location and cost which often override lesson effectiveness or suitability.

Children as young as 6 months, are encouraged to participate in what the industry classifies as “water familiarisation”. These lessons are generally conducted in a group setting with the parents in the water with their child. This is said to create bonding time for parent and baby and provide social interaction with other babies leading to a positive experience for the child’s association with water.

In many cases, the decision to conduct group lessons is based on:

  1. Financial viability as one instructor for 10 babies for 30 minutes is much more cost effective than one on one.
  2. The safety issue of personal liability is transferred to the parent who is the primary carer in the water.

Unfortunately, many of these water familiarisation classes do not equip the child with any aquatic survival skills. At the very core being to roll over and float to breathe.

Often young children enter into an aquatic experience without any understanding of their abilities or limitations, be it a river, ocean, swimming pool or fishpond. It is vitally important that 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.

The reality is barriers such as supervision and restricting access to water break down. When children fall into a body of water they usually do so fully clothed when they have wandered there unnoticed with no parents around.

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT SWIMMING, IT’S ABOUT SURVIVAL

In the Survival Program at Kids Aquatic Survival School our main focus is learning to survive, not just swimming. It is now widely accepted that the ability to swim is not enough to save a life. As a nation surrounded by water, learning practical water survival skills at an early age is essential.

That is why at Kids Aquatic Survival School, once the child has completed the Survival program and is fully skilled; the child applies their newly learnt skills in a safe and controlled environment wearing full winter clothing including shoes and nappy. This is a vital step because it is a very different sensory experience swimming or floating in clothes. So should they ever fall into water fully clothed, it won’t be the first time they have performed this skill.

Kids Aquatic Survival School want children to respect the water: not to fear it, but to understand that they have limitations. Acquiring aquatic survival skills is fundamental in the attempt to eliminate drowning.

For more information call 1800 543 779 or visit www.infantswim.com.au

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Competence before Confidence

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“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

That is why at KASS, once the child has completed the Survival program and is fully skilled, they perform their newly learnt skills in full winter clothing including shoes and nappy. This is a vital step because it is a very different sensory experience swimming or floating in clothes.

To ensure the child has an understanding of what it feels like to perform the skills in clothes, we simulate this in a safe and controlled environment so should they ever fall into water fully clothed, it won’t be the first time they have performed this skill.

Call 1800 543 779 or email info@infantswim.com.au to book your child into our accelerated survival program to increase their water safety.

#survivalbeforestroke #kidsaquaticsurvivalschool #watersafety#survivalswim

Image source; Daily Telegraph

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Swimming and cognitive function

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Swimming improves a child’s cognitive function

 A four-year study of over 7,000 children by the Griffith University in Australia found that swimming children were more advanced in physical and mental development when compared to their non-swimming peers. Specifically, the 3- to 5-year-olds who swam were 11 months ahead of the normal population in verbal skills, six months ahead in math skills, and two months ahead in literacy skills. They were also 17 months ahead in story recall and 20 months ahead in understanding directions.

How does swimming help?

Bilateral cross-patterning movements, which use both sides of the body to carry out an action, help your baby’s brain grow.

Cross-patterning movements build neurons throughout the brain, but especially in the corpus callosum, which facilitates communication, feedback, and modulation from one side of the brain to another.

Research states this improves:

  • reading skills
  • language development
  • academic learning
  • spatial awareness

Source: griffith.edu.au and healthline.com and seaottersswim.com

#teachthemyoung #swimmingimprovesbrainfunction #watersafety#childsafety #kidsaaquaticsurvivalschool

 

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Keep kids swimming throughout winter

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During summer children are keen to participate in swimming activities and frequently practice their aquatic survival skills outside of lessons without even realising. This additional practice is often very noticeable when children return to lessons showing progression.

However when the temperatures start to drop, the idea of swimming and lessons often loses its appeal.

It is important to remember that taking extended breaks where children aren’t swimming at all can set them back and when they eventually do return to the water after weeks or months they will have a LOT of catching up to do.

A key factor of how we learn – especially in children – is through repetition. Breaking this pattern could see children losing the skills they once had and spending a longer time in a level reacquiring those skills. Make sure you’re continuing your children’s swimming lessons to ensure time spent previously learning isn’t wasted.

When children have had an extended absence from the water or lessons we often see a decrease in retention of skills. Continuing swimming lessons throughout winter will allow them to continue learning and also help them to develop skills that will enhance their aquatic survival and safety in and around water.

Call 1800 543 779 or email info@infantswim.com.au to enrol your child into our accelerated survival program or if they are an existing student they might benefit from an intensive week of lessons delivered throughout the school holidays to enhance their water safety.

#survivalskills #survivalswimlessons #swiminwinter#kidsaquaticsurvivalskills #aquaticsurvivalskills#survivalswimming #aquaticsurvival

 

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Swimming out of your comfort zone

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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 put a child outside of their comfort zone.

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 info@infantswim.com.au to book your child into our accelerated Survival Program tailored to infants from 6 months to 6 years of age.

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No Goggles

No Goggles

In KASS lessons we DO NOT permit goggles in the 8 week Survival Program.

Goggle dependency can become a genuine safety issue.

81% of children under 4 years of age who drown do so due to falls into water. Most children in this situation are fully clothed and not wearing goggles. Children who become accustom to wearing goggles may panic, keeping their eyes closed instead of keeping their eyes open to look for safety or how to get out of trouble. Therefore it is important children do not develop a mindset of which they cannot swim without their goggles on.

Goggles can also be cumbersome when they; don’t fit well, don’t seal correctly and for some children prove difficult to put on and take off independently.

At KASS, we introduce the intermittent use of goggles at the transitional stage as they:
– Encourage the child to put their face underwater
– Provide a different sensory experience and perspective
– Enhance vision when diving for submerged objects
– Encourage head down and underwater swimming

Call 1800 543 789 or email info@infantswim.com.au if you would like to know more about our accelerated Survival program tailored to children aged from 6 months to 6 years.

#nogoggles #watersafety #swimsurvival#kidsaquaticsurvivalschool

Original Image source: Puddle Ducks * has been edited with text and lines

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Guess Who Won Our iPad?

Thanks to Stephen Gosch for drawing out the winner of the iPad,
we had over 300 people in the draw and the winner is…..

Kath Doyle Davis!!

ipad-winner

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