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Tag Archive water safety

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.

 

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.

 

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

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 info@infantswim.com.au to learn more about the KASS Survival and Learn to Swim Program

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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