Building happy, healthy and confident children in the water at Blue Dolphin Swim
WORDS: Lesley Rudd Founder/Owner & Tara Hanias Director/Owner
With our combined 50 years in this wonderful industry, the fundamental proposition is our ability to self-survive in water. It’s a complex skill to teach because of the level of coordination involved and our natural survival instinct kicks in and sets us up to drown. Before anyone can become a competitive swimmer, they need to know how to maximise their own protection.
Water safety and learning how to learn
The most powerful thing we can teach our children is to enter the water, turn around, get to the side and climb out. In this way, even very small kids can take control of their body in the water and their own survival. Ideally, young people already have a solid swimming practice by their school years. Forming healthy habits and behaviours that adhere to water safety ideals and learning how to learn is also great practice for a child’s educational journey.
Swimming during formative years not only assists with early childhood development, it further provides a precious bonding experience between carer and child.
Overcoming fears and taking control of instincts
Our survival instinct gets us to do 2 things: hold onto our air and put our head up where the air is. Together, these 2 things set us up to drown. Teaching through to the subconscious level enables us to overcome our fears and consciously take control of our instincts. If we are fearful, we cannot learn as our only concern is our own survival!
Young people need guidance in a nurturing and trauma-free way to overcome their fear, because no one learns when they are afraid. For this reason, the core skills we promote at Blue Dolphin Swim Centre are body and head positioning as well as controlling the exchange of air. These skills allow children to feel in control and confident before they learn about propulsion. If you have not learnt to exhale under the water and ascend for a pop-up breath before putting your head under again, the window to take that breath is not there and you will need to take that next breath underwater. Looking up to get the air also puts the body into a vertical position which means we cannot swim forward. So, the timing of taking a breath in conjunction with controlling our body position is crucial for survival in the water.
We cannot underestimate how complex the teaching of swimming is. Supervision is the most important thing we can teach our parents and caregivers. Learning to swim takes time and practice to teach our brain to co-ordinate 5 things together. For children to master body control in an aquatic environment to maximise their efficiency, propulsion and rest phases is a process best achieved through a commitment to quality education, practice and assessment. All the skills we teach are firmly centred on safety from learning efficient swim strokes to treading water, tows, rescue techniques and water ways safety talks.
Quality child-led education
Blue Dolphin Swim Centre’s framework model is child-led in a nurturing and trauma-free environment. We are family-focussed, respectful and supportive. Our unique facility is founded on standards of excellence and safety. We are family owned and community-based with values centred on education, superior customer service and cleanliness as well as being informed by a continuously improved program. Our skilled, passionate and qualified teachers use proven teaching methods that have been complimented by elite coaches.
Skill based training
We cater for babies from 4 months through to teenagers of 16 years and our philosophy is skills, rather than age-based, which translates into children working at their own pace and being promoted to higher levels whatever their age. In our progressive program one skill leads into another and a solid foundation is built to complement a students’ learning journey. We are always monitoring growth and ensuring readiness for the next progression by regular reward-based assessment for the next level and our parents informed every step of the way. We commit to students progressing in a timely manner and we provide 1-on- 1 assistance when necessary. Most importantly through our passion we instil a love of swimming that leads to all manner of aquatic activities for life.
Forming healthy habits and behaviours
With reference to ‘The Griffith University Report’ (Jorgensen, 2012), clear findings show that children who can swim significantly outperform their non-swimming peers in terms of visual and gross motor skills, oral expression and the academic achievement of literacy, numeracy and mathematical reasoning.
After nearly 5 decades in this industry, extensive travel, study and experience we shout from the rooftops, ‘why wouldn’t you teach your children to swim!’ Your child’s aquatic education provides them with opportunities for fun, safety and aquatic independence they will appreciate for their lifetime – and may even save their life.
Blue Dolphin Swim Centre, Happy Valley
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