A Melbourne swim school has attracted some controversy with its extreme teaching techniques.

Kids Aquatic Survival School in Southeast Melbourne don’t use floaties or goggles and don’t spend time teaching strokes.

Instead, they focus on staying afloat in winter clothing and teaching children to turn onto their backs and float.

Survival School instructor Anastasia Monakhov told News.com.au that her method prepared for “worst-case scenarios” such as a child falling into the water unsupervised.

Monakhov says that many of the children are pushed far outside their comfort zone, which is something that her young students and their parents can find very confronting.

“It’s an intense course, and that’s what gets results. We’re not about making it fun — we want to prepare them for worst-case scenarios.

“It is a tough start for a lot of the children but most of them realise pretty quickly that there’s no reason to be afraid,” Monakhov explained.

But Ross Gage, Chief executive of Aussie Aquatics, Australia’s learn-to-swim authority, said that children should learn to swim in a “positive, supportive and happy environment.”

He added that there is “no place for force in swimming lessons”.

The radical water safety school uses techniques from a system developed in the US called infant swimming resource which critics have blasted for its dramatic nature.

However, satisfied customers of the Melbourne school say that the results are worth it. One local mother, Tracy Bhogavalli, told News.com.au that she started taking her son, Jay, to Kids Aquatic Survival School when he was just 13 months old. “He was floating before he could walk,” she said.

Associate Professor Erica Frydenberg, from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, said parents and teachers “should be monitoring for adverse effects”.

Professor Frydenberg, a specialist in child stress and coping, said positive reinforcement was vital.

“Trauma, ie extreme stress, can have adverse effects but it seems to me they are building resilience and trying to teach them how to cope under adverse circumstances,” she said.

Share your comments below.

Image via News.com.au

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  • I think you just need to weigh up if its something that would suit your child. For my kids this would have been a nightmare.


  • I think it would be a great idea to incorporate this into regular swimming lessons!


  • My kids swimming lessons includes a lesson in clothes for this reason. At that young age, most drownings will usually occur when kids have entered water on their own accord while a parent isn’t looking (so usually clothed). It’s a good idea to prepare kids though swimming lessons can already be anxiety provoking for a lot of kids so I think something like this would only work once they’re confident enough with regular lessons otherwise it may be a bit traumatic.


  • yes i can see both points for sure i think that it is a great lesson but maybe this should be incorporated into standard swimming lesson. It is defensive swimming basically.


  • Thank you for the interesting article.


  • I can see both sides. Unfortunately, most drownings tend to be from an act of surprise or accident, so I’m not confident that even though a child can swim, that they can save themselves. The more intensive lessons with clothing on seem to make some sense.


  • I think its a great idea. Most kids who drown are wearing full clothing. For kids to be able to save themselves when fully clothed is an invaluable lesson. Well done to them!


  • I really think this is a good thing. Particularly like that the littlies are taught to float in clothing.
    Great project and should be praised for preventing drownings. Well done Anastasia.


  • As confronting as it may be, I think this is fabulous. Swimming in swimming clothes is a whole lot different to falling into a water source fully clothed and unexpectedly. Most people, children included, even if they can already swim are likely to panic and struggle if they are fully clothed. This, as far as I can see, kids how to deal with that. Imagine how low drowning deaths statistics would become if all small children learnt these techniques.


  • As far as I can see lots of drownings occur when kids or adults fall into water fully clothed. ok is might be a bit hard for the child but in the long run I think it is a bloody good idea. When my hubby was in charge of the Melbourne Water Transport unit of the Army Reserve years ago they had to learn or be able to swim with their army clothes on including very heavy boots. No wonder he is a good swimmer!


  • I some some video’s of this and I thought it looked really good, as first reason we do our kids in swimming lessons is to be safe in the water in the end. However I do understand some of the other arguments mums bring up here as well.


  • This is in my mind, quite a different approach and hopefully a highly beneficial method to teaching children, particularly young children, how to float fully clothed and with shoes on (going by the photo at the start) will save lives if the child were to fall into water by accident.
    To the ones saying to teach this method when kids are older – unfortunately kids who fall into the water and drown, are not usually older kids, they are very young children! I was taught how to swim fully clothed (minus shoes) in one of the later swimming stages, but I was about 10 or so by then and could already swim!

    As one person already said, if the method includes pushing the kids into the water fully clothed, then that’s really not appropriate. But if the kids are wading into the water and then floating onto their backs then I’d consider allowing my kids be taught this method (as well as more “normal” methods where they learn their strokes as well!)


  • I have been a swimming instructor for 10 years and have always taught with floaties, bubbles and goggles because it works and we get results. I do believe that teaching children to float may just one day save their life, but it should be incorporated in their lesson when they understand why. I would not want to see a child become so scared of the water because they are put in a position that is way to out of their comfort zone, that they never want to go back to lessons again. Swimming lessons should be fun whilst learning.

    As I have been responsible for the 2 yrs and up, I know the parents don’t want to see their child cry. If you have trust in the teacher, walk away. You being anxious or over caring in this instance will make it worse and kids are great manipulators on pulling at your heart strings.

    You are giving them a gift for life and I know at the end of the lesson they will turn the tears off as quick as they turned them on.

    More importantly, parents it is up to you, it’s your responsibility to make sure your kids can swim. So enrol them today and keep them in all year round.

    When the weather starts to cool down, take their pjs slippers, dressing gowns, beanies etc, hot shower straight after their lesson and they are ready for bed and they don’t usually get sick from going home cold and wet.

    Start your babies in water confidence classes its great fun and let them progress at their pace and you will see them be so proud when they are achieving new things. Swimming is great for your health and something you can do for the rest of your life.

    So parents, google your local swim school or ask around at school where kids go, book your kids in today. It may just save their life!!!!!!

    Happy swimming kids


  • A good swim school should teach children to swim – which includes swim strokes, survival and safety.

    • Children need to have trust in their swim teachers.


  • Having been a swimming instructor for 10 years using floaties and goggles and knowing that your children learn feeling safe and happy, I don’t have a problem with kids learning to float on their back for survival but they can’t float forever and learning their strokes, not dog paddle without floaties, is extremely important. I have met so many children whom have learnt without floaties and when they get to their school carnivals and realise they really can’t swim but play they feel embarrassed. Teaching them their strokes correctly is giving them the opportunity to play safely and have fun. It is also a great form of exercise they can do for the rest of their life.

    Yes kids get scared when trying something new, and parents i suggest you walk away and let the instructor deal with the tantrums, because we live in Australia, surrounded by water so it is the parents responsibility to have their child enrolled early, baby water confidence classes followed by learn to swim, all year round. It’s great for the asthmatics as well it compliments your lung function for all other sports.

    My message to parents, its not up to your school, their your kids, even if you have to sacrifice something, enrol them now and give them the gift that may one day save their life..

    Happy swimming kids.

    • What a great message you shared with us. Thank you!!


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