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Swim School Provider urges parents to avoid infant ‘Sink or Swim’ survival lessons

Swim School Provider urges parents to avoid infant ‘Sink or Swim’ survival lessons
March 1, 2017

Australia’s largest national swim school provider is urging parents to steer clear of controversial sink or swim survival lessons, classes that involve infants and toddlers being immersed in deep water, simulating a drowning type scenario while parents observe from outside the pool.

JUMP! Swim Schools founder and Managing Director Ian Campbell explained “the unprecedented spate of children’s drownings we’ve witnessed this summer is driving parents, government and industry stakeholders to find a way to reverse this preventable tragedy.

“Desperate parents are searching for ways to teach their infants learn to swim and water safety techniques. But they must be made aware that a sink or swim survival swimming lesson can do more harm than good.

“The premise is that over time, babies will learn to turn and float. But at what cost?

“Abandoned by their primary carer in a terrifying learning environment, infants cry and scream. In the process, they inhale water and panic.

“There is a very real risk of water intoxication, vomiting, exhaustion and trouble breathing. And that’s just the physical dangers.

“The emotional trauma of sink or swim survival classes may also place your child at risk of developing a severe water phobia and distrust of swimming teachers.

“The biggest risk factor for child drowning is lack of supervision. Never leave a child under your care alone while they are in or around enough water to drown in, even for a few seconds. And keep your young children within arms’ length at all times.”

By contrast, JUMP! Swim Schools offers a confidence-based approach to infant swimming with a tailored, competency-based program that is backed by the latest child care and teaching research.

Campbell adds “the JUMP! Swim Schools curriculum is a breakthrough in teaching babies the basic elements of swimming at a young age.

“Our mission is to give children a love of water for life in a nurturing environment. At the very foundation learning to swim is water confidence developed through gentle water conditioning. This confidence and ensuing journey through water should begin as early as three months of age and continue all year round.

“We focus on the joy of participation and parental engagement in a fun and hygienic environment that is perfect for boosting the confidence in young swimmers.”

“Children under five are a high priority for drowning prevention initiatives and summer drowning statistics reinforce the importance of all children to develop water confidence and swimming skills by the time they are primary school age.

“The more children we have learning the life skill of swimming, the more chance we will see drowning statistics decline.”

In a report on the Kidspot website, the owner of Australia’s biggest ‘survival’ swim school says negative comments only come from competing swim school operators.

In their Guidelines for swimming teachers of infants and preschoolers, Austswim says that swimming lessons should only incorporate “procedures and techniques that are stage-appropriate, non-traumatic and respectful of the rights of the child are to be implemented. At no stage should force be used. Teachers must take into account the readiness of each child to participate or attempt a particular skill”.

Additionally Justin Scarr, Chief Executive of the Royal Life Saving Society - Australia, told Kidspot that the Society has “serious concerns” about any swim school that markets itself as drown proof.

“Adult supervision and restricting access to water remain the most effective approach to preventing drowning in young children. Water familiarisation plays an important role in reminding parents of the limitations of their child’s swimming ability and reinforcing the need for constant supervision.

“Swimming lessons should be fun. There are hundreds of very reputable, and experienced swim schools across Australia who can teach your child a healthy respect for the water, basic swimming skills and in an environment which is both a nurturing and positive.

“Australia has hundreds of very dedicated swim schools, and thousands of swimming and water safety instructors, who use methods designed to minimise stress, encourage enjoyable learning and a life-long love and respect for the water. There is no place in our industry for programs that place children in highly traumatic circumstances, or deliberately force them to submerge or float without instructor or parental encouragement.”

Top image used for illustrative purposes only. Lower image courtesy of JUMP! Swim Schools (below).

27th January 2017 - JUMP! SWIM SCHOOLS WELCOMES 15,000 YOUNG SWIMMERS 

27th December 2016 - WARNINGS FOLLOW SEVEN CHRISTMAS PERIOD DROWNING DEATHS IN NSW

2nd December 2016 - AUSTRALIAN SWIM SCHOOL FRANCHISE OPENS FIRST INTERNATIONAL SITE 

24th October 2016 - JUMP! SWIM SCHOOLS NAMED EMERGING FRANCHISOR OF THE YEAR

15th September 2016 - NEW REPORT SHOWS NO IMPROVEMENT IN ANNUAL DROWNING FIGURES 

30th August 2016 - JUMP! SWIM SCHOOLS TO OPEN MORE THAN 50 NEW FRANCHISES ACROSS VICTORIA

28th April 2016 - NEW AUSTRALIAN WATER SAFETY STRATEGY RECOGNISES IMPACTS OF NON-FATAL DROWNING

4th November 2013 - PARENTS VALUE SWIMMING AND WATER SAFETY LESSONS ABOVE OTHER OUT-OF-SCHOOL ACTIVITIES 

19th November 2008 - YMCA SLAMS ISR APPROACH TO SWIM TRAINING


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