It’s a swim school that’s attracted attention for its controversial methods.
The Kids Aquatic Survival School is focused on teaching kids to save themselves from drowning. Children do the lessons fully clothed, and they’re made to go under water sooner than in other swim schools.
Now, some of the neighbours of the Wollongong franchise of the school are complaining about the sounds that come from the children.
“The extreme nature of the teaching methods causes participating children an inordinate degree of distress and discomfort,” Ben Cornwell told the Illawarra Mercury.
“It sounds like they’re torturing these kids. The inevitable cries, screaming, gagging that results is having a disastrous impact on my family’s well-being and state of mind.”
Cornwell says he and his wife can’t work from home, and their two children are stressed from the hours of crying.
“My objection to the business is simply based on the disruption it is causing to the neighbourhood,” he tells Mamamia.
“I expect that Wollongong City Council will provide a decision on the complaints lodged by affected residents in due course.”
Another neighbour, Jenelle Livet, has also made complaints.
“It’s just heart-wrenching. The kids sound very distraught and I don’t want to be in my own home and have to feel so upset for other people’s kids.”
She says it’s all about the noise.
“There have been a lot of people saying it is good for the community, which it may be,” Livet tells Mamamia, “but not in our backyard, as it is affecting our stress levels, etc.”
The owner of the swim school, Rachelle Beesley, is aware some children find her methods uncomfortable. But she defends that.
Listen: The latest episode of our parenting podcast This Glorious Mess. (Post continues after audio.)
“Just because a child cries, it’s not because they’re getting abused, it’s because they’re being pushed out of their comfort zone,” she tells the ABC.
Beesley says the focus of the school is on survival. It’s not about getting children feeling comfortable with the water or playing games. Children from the age of six months are taught to take a breath before entering the water and to float till help arrives. Children who are old enough to walk are taught to open their eyes under water and to dog paddle to the side of a pool.
“Our program is designed to give skill and competency, not a false sense of security because they’re in the water with a parent holding them,” Beesley adds.