Water safety in the deep end

*Watch the video in the player below*

Children are more likely to retain water safety skills they learn in natural open water environments like rivers and the ocean than in swimming pools, new research shows. 

In a study conducted over the 2018 summer by University of Otago researchers, retention of important water safety skills was improved following teaching undertaken by experts in different open water environments.

Lead by Professor Chris Button, Dean of the School of Physical Education, Sports and Exercise Science, 120 children undertook a practical water safety programme in ocean, harbour and river waters around Dunedin. 

The children learnt to evaluate risks in the different environments alongside some key skills like floating, getting in and out of water safely and how to fit a lifejacket properly.

Professor Button’s research has shown that while children can learn well in both pool and open water environments, the retention of water safety skills was best for those children who had been taught in open water. 

“Learning water safety skills seems very much attached to the context in which they are taught, and that’s why we think learning only in the pool is problematic as most drownings around the world tend to occur in open water,” Button says. 

Watch the University of Otago video in the player above to find out more about the results of the study. 

Can you help our journalists uncover the facts?

Newsroom is committed to giving our journalists the time they need to uncover, investigate, and fact-check tough stories. Reader donations are critical to buying our team the time they need to produce high-quality independent journalism.

If you can help us, please donate today.


Newsroom does not allow comments directly on this website. We invite all readers who wish to discuss a story or leave a comment to visit us on Twitter or Facebook. We also welcome your news tips and feedback via email: Thank you.

With thanks to our partners