Plunge may pre­vent young drown­ings

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

LON­DON: Moth­ers who have lost chil­dren to drown­ing are teach­ing tod­dlers a con­tro­ver­sial wa­ter sur­vival tech­nique they be­lieve could save lives.

Emma Aspinall, 33, launched her own swim sur­vival lessons af­ter her son, Loui, two, drowned in 2013 on hol­i­day in Tu­nisia.

She raised £10 000 (R170 000) to com­plete a wa­ter safety pro­gramme in the US and now teaches the one-on-one lessons – which sees young­sters plunged into wa­ter and left to find a way to float on their backs – near her home in Wi­gan.

“One of my four-year-old stu­dents went on hol­i­day and slipped into the pool and in­stantly got on to her float po­si­tion,” she said. “She had only had three weeks of lessons but was able to save her­self.”

Olivia Rowe’s youngest son Jack drowned in his fam­ily’s swim­ming pool on his third birth­day in July 2014.

His mother, 41, is now in­struct­ing young­sters in this tech­nique. Some ex­perts have de­scribed the method as “harm­ful” and “dis­tress­ing”, but Rowe in­sists the classes could save lives.

Re­call­ing the day her son died, the for­mer PA, from Upavon, Wilt­shire, said: “The shock was too much to bear. We couldn’t be­lieve our son, who only hours ear­lier had been cel­e­brat­ing his birth­day, was now dead.” She said she had heard about the “self-res­cue” tech­nique be­fore Jack died – but the lessons were not avail­able in the UK. Af­ter his death, she went to New York to see the method for her­self and then be­came a fully ac­cred­ited in­struc­tor.

She said: “I was amazed at the chil­dren and their abil­ity to save them­selves. I be­lieve Jack would still be here if he’d had ac­cess to these lessons.”

How­ever, wa­ter safety or­gan­i­sa­tions –in­clud­ing Swim Eng­land and the Royal Life Sav­ing So­ci­ety UK – and baby swim­ming groups are crit­i­cal of the method.

They said: “While some may see this highly stress­ful, force­ful method of teach­ing as be­ing a means to an end, the wider baby swim­ming pro­fes­sion ar­gue there is a need to ex­am­ine if these drown-proof­ing tech­niques… are ac­tu­ally safe, ac­cept­able and ef­fec­tive.”

Dr Fran­coise Freed­man, of the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge, who is an ex­pert on baby swim­ming, has writ­ten a crit­i­cal re­port, called Sink or Swim – Drown-proof­ing Teach­ing Method­olo­gies. She said: “Forc­ing a baby or tod­dler to float re­lies on ex­treme trau­matic meth­ods and, sadly, no amount of praise will com­pen­sate for the mem­ory of in­flicted pain.”

Paul Thomp­son, of swim group Wa­ter Ba­bies, said: “We are fully aware of the dis­tress to chil­dren the self-res­cue tech­nique can cause and re­gard it as an ag­gres­sive, un­proven method to make ba­bies ‘drown­proof’.”

In re­sponse to the or­gan­i­sa­tions’ com­ments, Rowe said: “No child is put in dan­ger. My eyes are on that child 100% when they are in the pool and we’re also in the pool with them.” – Daily Mail

Some ex­perts say the method is harm­ful

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.