Water skills a potential lifesaver

Lauren Clark with AJ Hogan of Butler and Ryver Booth of Clarkson. Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au   d441900
Water skills a potential lifesaver
Lauren Clark with AJ Hogan of Butler and Ryver Booth of Clarkson. Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au d441900

The mother-of-two was just four years old when she saved a baby who had fallen into a pool unnoticed at a family barbecue.

Proud mum Noeleen Engelbrecht said Lauren was the only one to notice their friend�s child was underwater.

�None of us saw it or heard it,� Noeleen said.

�Lauren saw her lying at the bottom of the pool, jumped in and pulled her out so she actually saved her life even though all the adults were around the pool.�

Lauren said while she doesn�t remember it, hearing the story growing up had reinforced how easily things could take a turn around water, regardless of who was around.

�Unfortunately, children that drown tend to have gotten to water unattended with parents not knowing and it takes minutes, if not seconds,� she said.

�Children don�t have a natural fear or a sense of danger; they don�t understand the difference between a deep pool and a bathtub.

�And if they�re only ever caught by their mum and dad when they jump into a pool or taught to hold mum or dad�s fingers or grab on to T-shirts then they�re not actually going to learn how to be independent in the water until a good few years have gone by.�

After six weeks of intensive training in Sydney, Lauren launched the local Kids Aquatic Survival School about a year ago with hopes of helping to reduce the growing number of child drownings.

From six months, babies are taught breath control and how to roll over and maintain a floating posture until help arrives.

As they develop, they learn to look for safety with their eyes open underwater and grab for the side of the pool.

They are then moved further away and taught to paddle to the side before learning to roll back and float so they can breathe when needed, flip back and continue swimming to safety.

Children are taught fully dressed, including nappies and shoes, and Lauren uses physical cues to guide them.

�We have very strict safety protocols in our lessons� we have a very strict swim,� she said.

�We don�t want any child to be under the water for longer than seven seconds so we do a three-second swim and that�s normally on average when a child needs a breath.

�They learn they get a feeling in their chest, a feeling in their head that they need to breathe, they roll and get a breath and that feeling goes away.�

She said it was not about instilling fear but moulding capable and confident swimmers.

�We don�t want them to be fearful because a fearful child will panic,� she said.

�We teach them how to be confident because they�re always just that little bit further away from something that they can achieve.�

Butler mum Louise Hogan said her two-year-old son AJ began gripping the side of the pool at his first lesson.

�In a perfect world your child is going to be next to you all the time without getting away but toddlers are Houdinis,� she said.

Clarkson mum Michelle Gaensler said her 11-month-old daughter Ryver Booth loved her lessons. �It�s a life saving skill � we�re at the beach every day in summer pretty much,� she said.

�My mum�s got a pool, my mother-in-law has a pool, so I thought this was just invaluable.�

Lauren first started teaching swimming lessons in England five years ago. Last year she won a WA Austswim Teacher of Infant and Preschool Aquatics Award.

For more about Kids Aquatic Survival School Quinns Rocks and October enrolments, view their page on Facebook or visit infantswim.com.au.