Australia’s biggest survival swim school says that comments criticising the ‘sink and swim’ baby swim lessons only come from competing swim school operators and not from parents.
Some people have branded as dangerous and traumatic, Kids Aquatic Survival School’s ‘sink and swim’ baby swim lessons where babies and toddlers are “thrown” into the water to simulate a drowning scenario, and in the process, learn to rescue themselves.
Yet, Rachelle Beesley, co-owner of Kids Aquatic Survival School told Kidspot that negative comments about survival swimming class techniques always come from competing swim schools and never from parents.
“Just because a child is crying doesn’t mean they’re being traumatised. One of our clients is a child psychologist and she’s written a testimonial on our website stating in her professional opinion this program is not traumatising, it’s not abusive in anyway,” she said.
Ms Beesley says the reason children cry during the survival swimming lessons is because they’re out of the comfort zone. “First of all, they’re going to a stranger. So it’s no mums and bubs lessons, no parents in the water. They don’t know how to teach their child, they haven’t been trained”¦ the parent is not in the water with the child whilst they’re learning,” she said, explaining that parents are only invited into the pool with the child during the final lesson so parents can learn how to interact with their child in the water. “Once the child is no longer outside that comfort zone they all stop crying,” Ms Beesley added.
She says her program is designed to teach children to become their own self-rescuer.
However, JUMP! Swim Schools founder Ian Campbell said that the said survival swimming technique is risky.
“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,” he said in a statement.
AustSwim, one of Australia’s most recognised providers of training for swim teachers, says that swimming lessons should only use “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”.