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Tag Archive survival swimming

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.

 

A child’s response to water

Children can respond differently to water.

The article referenced below by North Shore Pediatric Therapy provides a valuable insight into the different sensory stages children experience with swimming, such as;

  1. Motor Planning
  2. Proprioception
  3. Vestibular
  4. Tactile
  5. Auditory

At Kids Aquatic Survival School all instructors are trained in the areas of;

  1. Child development and learning theory
  2. Behavioural science
  3. Anatomy
  4. Physiology and physics as they relate to infants and young children in the aquatic environment.

All KASS lessons are private, one instructor per student. This enables KASS instructors to tailor the lesson to each individual child, based on behaviour and ability. It also maximises the effectiveness of the lesson with 100% swim time and eliminates the distraction other children in the same lesson may have on accomplishing the goal from the lesson.

At KASS, we provide a safe and controlled environment, which allows the child to learn through consistency and positive reinforcement which builds tonnes of confidence!

Call 1800 543 779 to discuss our programs or visit our Lessons and Techniques page

Sensory Strategies for Swimmers

#swimfloatsurvive #competencebuildsconfidence #kidsaquaticsurvivalschool

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

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/

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.

Competence before Confidence

“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

Swimming and cognitive function

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

 

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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