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Tag Archive infant swimming

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.

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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