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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.

 

What are the most suitable swim lessons for my child?

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

No toys in lessons

At Kids Aquatic Survival School WE DON’T use toys in our Survival and Learn to Swim Program to distract children from crying.

We focus on learning skills that will develop the child’s confidence.

We support the child and work through the real issue as to why they are crying be it lack of skill, separation anxiety or just emotional and tired.

Children communicate through showing emotion.

Crying is accepted in our lessons because we validate how a child feels by allowing them to express themselves, to appreciate they are finding it difficult and to support them through the process.

As the child’s skills improve, the tears fade.

Toys are a distraction and do not validate a child’s feelings.

It is not until children are competent in survival do we introduce dive dudes in our weekly transitional lessons which are not used as a distraction but to develop diving skills, increase breath control and have some fun!

To learn more please visit our lessons and techniques page or call 1800 543 779.

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