So I promised to blog about swimming, specifically infant swimming, a little while ago & just haven’t got around to it yet. It’s not something I just wanted to whip up quickly as I think it’s quite an important topic. Today, after Master 2’s swimming teacher making a comment about that video that is all over facebook, I decided I’d get down to it.
Of course, the boys wanted to make Elmo cupcakes instead of letting mum sit in front of the computer. Ok I think they actually said “cookies”, but cookies are so boring, so I elaborated on their idea & then soon regretted it as it was such a mission, but I digress…
As most of you are aware (or will be after reading this), I am a swimming teacher/instructor. I have been for many years, as well as having studied a Sport Science degree at university & been a competitive swimmer and surf lifesaver since about 11 years old. I have taught in South Africa, Australia & now New Zealand. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I do know a thing or two about swimming (of all ages), which I am always happy to share. It can be quite a competitive business, with swim schools not wanting to share methods with each other, but I have no problem sharing my knowledge with whoever asks me.
First off, babies I teach range in age from 3months – 3 years. They each have an adult in the pool with them, ALWAYS someone well known to them. I have a “no cry” policy in my classes. That’s not to say babies aren’t allowed to cry but rather, if they cry, there must be a reason which needs to be addressed immediately in order to get them comfortable/happy/ confident again. I don’t believe that there should ever be a good enough reason to let a baby scream/cry continuously in the water. Kids, of course, all have bad days so sometimes whinging/crying is par for the course, but this is usually easily rectified with a distraction (toy/song/game etc) & the child is otherwise happy in the water.
For those of you who haven’t seen the swimming video that went viral on facebook a few weeks ago, check it out here (from about 40 secs in is the actual part they showed in the facebook clip) Loads of people shared it, claiming it to be amazing but how many of them/you went further, to research the method they use? hmmmm that’s what I thought.
Well, this particular method is a programme called Infant Swim Resourse. I won’t go into their claims etc as it’s easy enough to check out their info if you google it and it’s definitely not something I want to promote & I would NEVER put my children through this EVER! Go to youtube & search for ISR swimming lessons & you will find heaps of videos…pay close attention to the ones with “1st lesson” in the titles, and prepare yourself. Kids screaming in fear & the parents watching from the sidelines! These poor babies don’t even have their parents in the water with them. Imagine watching your child in such distress & being ok with it!? (this particular one was really difficult to watch!)
Some will claim that it’s purely a survival method & that it isn’t meant to be fun so it’s worth it in the end. Sure, having your child able to save themselves if need be is ideal I am not disputing that, but there are methods that are gentler, more fun & far more beneficial to the mental/physical/emotional well being of the child. You wouldn’t dump a baby on the motorway to teach it road safety would you??
Can you imagine the outcry if animals were being made to go through the same levels of stress or trauma so how is it acceptable to put a human being through this in the name of it MAYBE saving their lives AT SOME POINT in the unforeseeable future?
I could go on & on about the benefits of swimming for babies in a relaxed & happy environment but really, there is so much research available to support that claim that you can google it yourself if you’re interested. I firmly believe that every baby/child should be given the opportunity to experience water in a positive way. It doesn’t need to be formal lessons, which can get pricey, as it can be done in the bath/spa pool/home pool/public pool etc Babies are not born with a fear of water, that they learn from us so it is really important that you are relaxed in the water so that they can take their q’s from you.
I could go on about I may save it for another post, this has ended up being more of a rant than anything but if you have any other questions you think I could answer for you, please just leave a comment.
I am also not interested in any negative comments from ISR supporters, I am entitled to my opinion & if that makes you defensive then it just proves my point further…