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The Jungle Journal

Swimming Safari Response “Teaching children to swim is a heartfelt lesson from a Jacksonville Mom”

After reading the article, “Teaching children to swim is a heartfelt lesson from a Jacksonville Mom.”

I agree learning to float on your back is essential for all children and even
adults (many adults drown because they can’t swim-think of fishermen), however,
I feel the wrong message is being given here. Children need more than just
being able to turn over, they need to learn to swim! Also, the place she is
giving her lessons…. really an above ground pool? Do you know how many deaths
are caused by children climbing up the ladders of above ground pools? and the
fence around it… I could see it was not secured! And let’s not think about the
cleanliness of the water with all the animals that must drink from it at night,

Also, why traumatize a child, like
she said in the beginning? Wouldn’t it be kinder to have mom work with her? So,
she would feel comfortable and secure? I certainly wouldn’t want a stranger to
put me underwater and handle me that way, why would we want a baby to be
subject to this?

The term “ISR,” (Infant Survival Resource) is getting way too much publicity and in
my opinion is actually harmful to your baby.

Swim lessons that can be interpreted as abusive violate the teaching
guidelines of the World Aquatic Baby Swimming Congress and the United
States Swim School Association. Experts agree that crying is not a
prerequisite for learning how to swim. In The Baby Swim Book, Cinda
L Kochen (PhD) and Janet McCabe write, “Most psychologists warn against forcing
your baby into traumatic situations, such as drown proofing classes. Instead of building an association between water and fear,

build one between water and enjoyment.”

It is our opinion that, in this approach, through fear, babies are
essentially conditioned to “roll over.” The quicker they master this skill; the
less time they have to endure someone forcibly submerging them. A child that
learns just to react when placed in water, feels that innate reflex to turn
over. It’s more of an alert message that they get and the brain is not in gear.

Instead of building an association between water and fear, why not build one
between water and enjoyment?” A child that has learned to think and react
will know and understand what to do when placed in water. They may know and
understand to turn over (which they may do naturally, because that is what
they have been taught and they have “learned,” to do.) AND, at the
same time they will not be scared, their brain will take over and they will be
“thinking,” of what they need to do: “Swim to the side of the
pool,” or “swim and float when I need to rest or breath.”
Infants can learn SO much, at such an early age. They do not need to learn just
to “react.”

Why limit your child’s ability? Why not
stimulate and encourage? Who best to teach and nurture your child then the parent?
Instead of building an association between water and fear, build one between
water and enjoyment.”

But if it saves a child, isn’t it worth it?

In this case, we believe that the means do not justify the ends. Attentiveness on
the part of parents and caretakers is the one constant that has been proven to
reduce the risk of water-related injuries and deaths. (Think about Bode Miller…watching your child is so VERY important.) We think these
types of classes can, in some cases, cause parents to feel overly secure in
their infant’s abilities and, as a result, become less attentive when their
children are in and around water.

Other reasons we discourage enrollment classes that just work on rolling over?

We have seen first-hand the effects these classes have on children. These” grads”
often hate the water and have to be reintroduced to it in a
positive way. In addition, because rescue conditioning is not swimming, These
grads struggle to learn appropriate swimming strokes because they first have to
unlearn their conditioned responses. We have to work closely with these
children to develop a love and respect for the water.

Bottom line?

The harsh techniques used in these classes are not supported by current child
development theories. At Swimming Safari Swim School, we develop our
curricula based on the current child development research. We incorporate
developmentally-appropriate skills and include songs and games to entice motivation
and participation.

We teach survival floating with the parents’ assistance.

We feel the parents are the most important person
in a child’s life and they should be there to encourage and teach them when
they are under 2, so they can have a life-long respect and love for the water.
We teach parents how to work with their children and babies in helping them
learn swimming skills to succeed. When they are over two years of age, they can
go into a class without the parent, where they continue to work on these skills
and advance further. We teach more than just survival floating. We teach
floating, water survival skills and swim skills, so soon they will be able to
swim across the whole pool. We nurture your children so that they feel
safe, happy, relaxed, and confident in and around the water. Your children
should want to come to swim lessons. At Swimming Safari Swim School, creating a positive
educational experience so that your children can learn the life-saving
skill of swimming is our highest priority.

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