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YMCA slams ISR approach to swim training

YMCA slams ISR approach to swim training
November 19, 2008

The YMCA has backed calls by legendary swimming coach Laurie Lawrence for Australian parents to ensure that children receive water safety skills and aquatic education in a fun, engaging and safe environment.

The support follows a feature on Network Nine's 60 Minutes program, broadcast on 16th November, which outlined the controversial Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) approach to water safety.

The YMCA highlights that for decades it has been committed to educating parents and children about water safety and believes that it is critical for parents to be engaged in the water safety education of their children.

As Meredith King, YMCA Aquatic Education Specialist explained, "water safety skills will not drown proof our kids, it will however provide them with experiences and knowledge that will assist them to be safer in and around water. It won't necessarily make them good swimmers but it will make them more aware of their environment".

Taking acoount of the statistics on toddler drownings and the tragic lifelong consequences of aquatic accidents is frightening, King added that âmany might say that any type of aquatic education is better than nothing, but I have witnessed ISR courses in the USA where parental attendance and participation is forbidden, children are dropped off and parents told to return an hour later. These soundproofed pools muffle the trauma experienced by screaming and, on many occasions, vomiting children as they are forced to perform so-called survival skills.

"Controversial approaches that take the fun out of learning, frighten children in an aquatic environment send the wrong message to parents. Water safety is not an eight week certificate course with guarantees at the end. Water safety is an investment in time, patience and vigilance."

The YMCA strongly encourages parents to seek infant and preschool aquatic education programs that place the care, welfare and comfort of children at the forefront of learning. Parents are advised to seek programs where they and their children are the central focus, and where fun, exploration, enjoyment and education lead the way to learning.

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