Over-confidence is a real killer
Developing in-water confidence is vital for our kid’s safety, and swim lessons is our greatest platform for developing that confidence.
However, over-confidence contributes enormously to drowning statistics
Research around the world has found:
That 40% of young males rated being caught in a rip current presented little danger to themselves and another 23% thought the same from being swept off isolated rocks by a wave
An inclination among adult males to underestimate the risk of drowning, and to overestimate their ability to cope with the risk inherent in water-related activity.
That people with more water confidence (measured by their perceived anxiety) are more likely to engage in water-related activities in unsafe water locations than those with less confidence
That 66% of drowning victims were good swimmers
Where is this over-confidence coming from?
Too often good swimmers believe that because they can swim, they are drown proof. This could not be further from the truth, it is because they can swim, they can become overconfident and push their boundaries or parents become complacent and relax their levels of supervision.
Our kids are predominantly taught how to survive dangerous waterways from the classroom seat or in normal pool conditions. As a result they are unable to link what they are learning to reality and use their imagination to fill the gaps. As we know, kids have incredible imaginations and will imagine themselves swimming out of the current easily and maybe saving his/her friends on the way out. Imagination is a major gateway for over-confidence in kids, something ,we as adults tend to forget.
We constantly hear that if you get caught in a current, we should ‘remain calm’, ‘swim parallel’ or 'signal for help'. It is all said in a manner that makes it sound easy. When the kids hear it (and many adults), they are hearing that the solution is as easy as remaining calm. They imagine themselves remaining calm without a realistic understanding of what it is like to be caught in an aggressive current. It takes a whole lot of mental and physical effort to remain calm when being pulled away from the safety of shore with water smashing them in their eyes and mouth.
Things can get nasty quick when parents and kids fail to recognise that learning to swim in a pool is a lot different than swimming in open water. Going from a pool to a river/ocean can be surprising, which can quickly turn to shock and then panic.
These are only a few issues that come to mind. I’m sure there are many other dangers that lead swimmers into over-confidence
What we're doing to tackle over-confidence
Though swimming lesson are essential for developing skills for safety around water, we still need to provide our kids with an all-round education where they learn to respect dangerous waterways and understand the limits of their abilities in various aquatic environments.
The u-Rippa compliments swimming lessons by tackling the issues swim lessons can't.
Within one session of the u-Rippa program, the kid’s imaginary and inflated beliefs of their own abilities are rapidly washed away as they fight exhaustion to swim against the current and stay afloat.
They are quickly brought back to reality as they discover the limits of their abilities and profoundly understand why they should respect, fear and avoid dangerous waterways.
This is the essence of quality education
Superficial Learning Scenario
At swim school, Tania learns that if she falls in a river, creek or stream, the current could drag her away from shore. She learns she should remain calm and swim parallel to the current to get back to safety.
Tania practices this with her swim instructor by purposely falling in the pool and swimming back to the edge.
Tania is a good swimmer and is confident that she can now swim back to shore if she falls in dangerous waters.
Tania falls into the river and starts to swim back to shore. The current drags her away from shore and into deeper water.
She has never experienced a current before and she was not expecting it to be so difficult to swim against.
Water splashes in her face, making it difficult to focus, which never happened during swim lessons.
Shock quickly turns into an overwhelming sense of fear and then panic.
Within 60 seconds, Tania sinks below the surface and drowns
We cannot expect a child to remain calm in a high stress situation, which they have never experienced before.
Kids need to link what they are learning to reality, they need to obtain a real grasp of what they are up against and understand what they 'are' and 'are not' capable off.