Dispelling the Myths of dry and secondary drowning.

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We have recently seen some stories regarding dry or secondary drowning on social media sites that understandably may make you hesitant about taking your baby swimming if you do not know all the facts so here we are setting the record straight.

There are three types of drowning. Dry, Wet and Secondary.

Many people if not all have experienced “something going down the wrong way”, during drinking. When this happens the person coughs and splutter then still feeling a tickle in their throat they have a drink of water or two until the discomfort has gone. In the throat we have the food pipe (oesophagus) and the wind pipe (trachea) in between is a flap (epiglottis). This flap closes when we swallow to protect water entering the lungs.

Dry drowning.

If a person gets into difficulty in the water, they may have some water go down the throat. The flap or epiglottis as described above will snap shut in a conscious person, protecting the lungs from large amounts of water, however as it shuts it may catch a small amount of water. This normally doesn’t have much effect as our lungs need to be moist to work, this is why in cold weather we can see our breath (water vapour). Breathing in water can cause vocal chords to spasm and close up, this shuts off his airways, making it hard to breathe – symptoms of dry drowning generally happen immediately after the incident.

Secondary drowning.

If the small amount of water is dirty e.g. From a lake or river rather than a swimming pool where the water is treated and filtered continuously. This can cause a chest infection (pneumonia) up to 72 hours after the incident, if in doubt always seek medical attention at an A & E department.

Wet drowning

This occurs when the casualty becomes unconscious and the flap (epiglottis) relaxes and the lungs fill with water. Only resuscitation can assist in this case.

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To summarise:-

The body has protective measures in place to prevent water entering the lungs, if a small amount of clean water does enter the lungs this will have little effect as the lungs need to be moist to work. If the water is dirty this may cause an infection however this is rare. If any signs of breathing difficulties are displayed up to 72 hours (3 days) after an incident in water then urgent medical attention must be sought.

Symptoms to look for:

Dry drowning and secondary drowning have the same symptoms. They include:

  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Feeling extremely tired
  • Sudden changes in behaviour

In most cases symptoms will improve by themselves but it is worth getting checked out if you are concerned as the symptoms can be treated easily with oxygen or ventilation in a hospital.

We hope this helps to reassure you that although dry and secondary drowning DOES exist (although these are not official terms) it is a very rare phenomenon and only accounts for around 1% of all drowning cases.

Our pools are regularly filtered and checked which removes the risk of secondary drowning and all our teachers are first aid trained (lifeguards) but have never (and never expect to) treat a case of dry drowning.

Thank you to George Tarte of Aquatic Rescue Training for the in-depth and reassuring information and thanks to you for reading, please feel free to comment if you have found this post useful.

Fiona Munt-Whittle

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Excuses, excuses


Do any of these sound familiar?

  • My tummy just isn’t the same since giving birth.
  • I have cellulite
  • I just need to go to the gym for a few months first
  • I don’t want to get my hair wet

Throughout my life as a Mother and Swimming Instructor I’ve heard these reasons and many more countless times, they are the excuses used to not to get into a swimming pool.  I’ve heard Mum’s say them with real pained expressions on their faces, they really, really don’t want to strip off down to a swimming costume and walk through the pool area half naked!

I understand, I really do – I’ve had four children and I’m not 18 anymore but yet nearly every day I’m donning one of my swimming costumes, introducing myself to people on poolside and getting in and out of the pool in front of the lifeguards and other swimmers!  I may have an advantage, I have a history with water – I’ve been swimming since I was young and I’ve never stopped so I suppose I’m not fazed by the whole experience but that’s not the reason why I get in the water.  I get in because I want to teach babies how to swim, I want those babies to grow up confident in water and have those all-important life-saving skills, I want to see them progress, to dive to the bottom of the pool, to swim widths then lengths, to roll about, to blow bubbles in the water, to do handstands and then to get out at the end and confidently walk back to the changing rooms.

Now we all know the benefits of getting babies into the swimming pool as young as possible, you are literally exchanging one watery environment for another – babies love it!  You are helping your child to boost their intelligence, to strengthen their muscles and to socialise with others.

But let’s say you’re past that stage, your child(ren) already love going swimming and pester you to take them to the local pool at every opportunity, you really want to take them but can’t face putting your cellulite or love handles on show so you sit by the side whilst they splash about in the shallows complaining to the Mum’s around you “I’ll get in once I’ve got rid of this extra weight” or “once I find a swimsuit that covers all my body I’ll be happy to get in” – you may notice your child(ren) go quiet and absorb what you are saying – this is what they hear “I can only have fun if I’m physically perfect”.

above water

It may sound severe but that is literally what you are saying, you can only wear a swimming costume if you look flawless!  In this day and age of media pressure, expecting everyone to want to look like a super model it is not surprising that’s how you feel but is that also how you want your child(ren) to feel?  They look to you to be the example so I say now is the time to shrug off those expectations, show your children that you can have fun whatever you look like and throw on your swimming cossie and get in that water!

Thanks for reading

Fiona Munt-Whittle


Is it easy to be an Ethical Small Business?

We think it is, actually maybe it is easier when you have a smaller committed team.  Right from the beginning I made a conscious effort to move my business forward ethically and as Aquatots grew it became a core value – the big secret is TRUST! The office staff, the swimming instructors and I trust each other and we all trust in the ‘product’ – we know our Aquatots methods and techniques for teaching babies to swim are the very best!   As a team we are easily able to project to our customers that we are a business that is transparent and has nothing to hide, this is why we have a huge customer retention rate and have a healthy intake of new swimmers every term.


So what other ethical practices can a small business adopt?   How many employers overlook their employees and are rigid and inconsistent, how many are cash orientated to a point that profit over quality?  Of course as a business you need to generate an income to flourish and grow but a steady rate is preferable to ‘burnout’– here at Aquatots Swimming we recognise everybody’s strengths and encourage idea sharing and active participation in decision making – that’s what makes us so strong and able to compete in an every growing market for baby swimming lessons.


Aquatots Swimming is not just a company that talks about sustainability we actively do our part in supporting the community by employing people local to our swimming pool venues and giving them constant training and support , we also work alongside other local small businesses – employing their talents as consultants and suppliers.  We do our best to minimise energy use and waste, we utilise recycled products and materials from ink cartridges to paper and we are exploring ways on how to broaden that to include outgrown swimming costumes and baby swimming equipment.

baby and toy

Aquatots understands that ethical values mean different things to different people, but I have been lucky to be able to match my moral values to those of the business and the people I have employed have been completely on-board.  We all understand that being ethical helps us to be sustainable which in turn gives our swimmers the security that we will be here, giving 100%, from the first swimming lesson right up to when our swimmers leave us.

Sister and brother

Thanks for reading

Fiona Munt-Whittle

Aquatots Managing Director


Swimming with eczema


What is eczema?

Eczema (also known as dermatitis) is highly individual in its nature and affects 1 in 5 children in the UK.  It varies from person to person, comes in many different forms and is not contagious.

Skin provides a strong, effective barrier that protects the body from infection or irritation – it is made up of a thin outer layer, a fairly elastic one in the middle, and a fatty layer at the deepest level. Each layer contains skin cells, water and fats, all of which help maintain and protect the condition of the skin.  Healthy skin cells are plumped up with water, forming a protective barrier against damage and infection, fats and oils help to keep the water in.

If you have eczema, your skin may not produce as much fats and oils as other people’s, and will be less able to retain water- the protective barrier is therefore not as good as it should be. Moisture is then lost from the deeper layers of the skin, allowing bacteria or irritants to pass through more easily. Some everyday substances contribute to breaking down the skin. Soap, bubble bath and washing-up liquid, for example, will remove oil from anyone’s skin, but if you have eczema your skin breaks down more easily, quickly becoming irritated, cracked and inflamed.


Can my baby swim with eczema?

YES!  You should ensure you shower your baby thoroughly straight after swimming if the chlorine seems to worsen the eczema. Apply moisturizer once you’ve dried your baby off and if necessary apply it before swimming as well.  You may want to use a wetsuit such as Warma Wetsuits or Sun Protection UV Suits on occasions when the condition is flared.

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Why is swimming good for my baby with eczema?

Swimming is beneficial to babies but for eczema babies in particular there are a number of long and short-term health benefits:

Swimming has been proven to strengthen the heart and lungs as eczema babies have a higher chance of developing asthma it is important to support the development of strong lungs.  It is also of great advantage to teach babies how to control their breathing which can help to control asthma symptoms.

Eczema babies can really struggle to sleep through itching, swimming really does encourage a better night’s sleep (for baby and you!)

Spending time in cool water can calm angry skin and surprisingly pool chemicals can actually be beneficial for some babies’ eczema, especially if your baby’s eczema is prone to infections!

Interacting with other babies in Aquatots swimming classes supports good social skills.  Developing these skills early can be a real benefit to eczema children who can start to struggle socially once they become aware of their skin condition.


Tried and Tested non-prescription remedies from our Aquatots parents


Final word

For babies with mild to moderate eczema it should be possible to find a way for them (and you) to really enjoy swimming. However, if your little one has really severe eczema it would be wise to wait until it is under control before venturing into the pool for the first time. If you are in any doubt, ask your GP.

Thanks for reading

Fiona Munt-Whittle – Aquatots Managing Director

Keeping Baby Well This Winter


It is not easy avoiding bugs especially at this time of year, most winter viruses are airborne so it does not take much to pick up a cold but there are a few tips to help fend off those pesky germs!

  1. Make sure babies vaccinations are up-to date
  2. Wash yours and babies hands often to stop germs spreading.
  3. Scientists have recently discovered that cold noses and feet can actually lower our defenses so wrap baby up warm,
  4. If baby is on solid foods then include as much fresh fruit and vegetables into their diet as possible.
  5. Make sure baby is hydrated.
  6. Opening windows for a short while in the day can help to circulate fresh air around the house.
  7. Central heating can cause stuffy noses so only turn it on when you need to, try and keep babies room temperature between 16 and 20 degrees C.


We have a few tips to make sure that taking your baby swimming does not result in picking up a winter nasty!

  1. Ear infections don’t just cause earache they can also lead to a high temperature, poor appetite and restlessness at night-time. Swimming can be responsible for outer ear infections but this can be prevented by ensuring your baby’s ear canal is dry after a swim, you can do this by allowing the ear canal to drain naturally by tipping baby’s head gently to one side and then the other until you see the water drain away – then dry the ears with a towel, avoid poking anything into the ear such as cotton buds.


  1. Ensure the swimming pool you visit has clean water, most pools are regulated and Aquatots ensures that the correct health and safety checks have been carried out and that the water is tested regularly at all the pools we use. Private pools and ones abroad however may not be regulated and may cause you and baby to be ill!


  1. Aquatots sells Aqua bands in our online shop. These neoprene bands sit snugly to baby’s head to keep the water out, and they also come with earplugs for extra protection.  We recommend these if your child is susceptible to ear infections.  AQUA BANDS


  1. Hooded towels are ideal for baby after getting out of the pool, the air temperature outside of the pool may feel a little chilly especially after getting out of a hydro pool.


  1. Ensure baby is wrapped up warmly before leaving the swimming pool, dry their hair and pop on a hat before heading out into the cold.


Swimming helping premature babies



World Prematurity Day was on the 17th November, this is an important date for raising awareness of preterm births and the health concerns of premature babies across the globe.
Premature babies are more likely to suffer from health and developmental issues due to being born before they are physically ready – learning difficulties and respiratory conditions are more common than in children who were born at term.
Swimming can help your preterm baby ‘catch up’! We already know from the research undertaken by Griffith Institute for Educational Research in Australia that children that participate in early years swimming achieve a wide range of skills such as Visual Motor Skills, Story Recall and Mathematics Reasoning earlier than the normal population, in some cases children were 20 MONTHS ahead of their expected milestones* so closing the gap between premature and full term children can be supported by the benefits they receive from getting in the water as young as possible.

Premature babies are more likely to suffer from Hypotonia, this is low muscle tone in infants which is due to the cortex (the part of the brain that controls the muscles) having had less time to develop. Whilst in the swimming pool the increased resistance in the water helps to build strength and muscle tone especially in the legs, arms and neck.

Until your baby is born, their lungs are filled with a liquid that helps them grow and develop. During labour and birth this fluid is absorbed so that after birth they can take in the surrounding air. Premature babies are at high risk of developing breathing problems because their lungs are not yet mature enough to make this switch without some extra help, these breathing issues may continue as they grow. Swimming has been proven to strengthen the heart and lungs, developing strong lungs and the ability to control breathing can help to control the symptoms of ailments such as asthma.


At Aquatots we actively encourage parents to bring their premature babies swimming but due to babies especially preemies being unable to properly regulate their own body heat we do ensure that baby is at least 12lbs in weight and we recommend starting in one of our warmer hydro pools. Wetsuits are always available on request if baby needs that extra layer in the water and our office staff and teachers are on-hand to answer any questions. We also recommend you speak to your health visitor or GP before starting lessons with us.


Please see below some testimonials from some of our Aquatots parents with premature babies –

‘Olivia was born 12 weeks premature and she began swimming with Aquatots when she was 24 weeks old and has loved the water ever since and I put her love for swimming down to introducing her to the pool at an early age and when I felt she was strong enough. Her brother Jack was born 7 weeks premature and because his sister took to the water so well Jack began swimming at 17 weeks and he too enjoys the water. I think from my experience my advice for prems would be to make sure they have sufficient layers on for warmth as I still find with Jack even though he’s just turned 1 that they feel the cold but after their early battles nothing stops them!’ – Jane Briggs

‘Daisy was almost 9 weeks premature, We joined Aquatots when Daisy was 24 weeks old. Swimming has helped build Daisy’s confidence near water, I think she was lacking it due to not even being able to be bathed for 5 weeks so it was all very new for her. Daisy absolutely loves swimming and can’t wait to jump and splash into her bath at night thanks to Aquatots’ – Sinéad Somerville

(*see the full YouTube report HERE)



Top Tips when swimming with your baby


Baby swimming is a rewarding experience and completely natural. The first year of a life is crucial in terms of a baby’s development, as it is in this period that the brain grows most rapidly. Regular exercise plays a vital role in development with every movement they make helping to strengthen their brain for new learning.

Swimming helps build the bond between you and your baby, you are starting them on a habit that will last a lifetime as well teaching them an important and potentially life-saving skill.

We have gathered some TOP TIPS to help you and your baby prepare for your first swimming experience and beyond.

TIPS from the ASA (Amateur Swimming Association)

above waterdiving inbaby and toy

  • Submerge your baby to shoulder level or ensure they are wearing a full suit. Babies out of the water will soon become cold.
  • Watch your baby’s face so it does not fall below the water and so you can monitor their reactions.
  • Keep moving – your baby becomes aware that by moving their arms and legs they will stay afloat.

TIPS from Aquatots parent

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  • If your baby is still in a car seat you can carry, take a large carrier bag to place in seat to keep it dry and then wrap your wet baby in a towel and place them in the seat whilst you get dressed. You can then use the carrier bag to carry the wet costumes and towels home.
  • Carry your thing in a rucksack, so that you can have both hands free for dealing with children.
  • Poncho towels are a useful and it means you can get dressed first.
  • Sing loudly and enthusiastically in the lessons
  • Always carry a roll up waterproof type changing mat with you so you can place your little one safely on the floor, these are available from the Aquatots shop- Changing Mat
  • Bring a snack for after and also some water for a drink but please remember to not eat or drink in the changing rooms.
  • Persevere, they all go through the ‘I don’t want to’ phase but stick with it, don’t give in and let them surprise you a week or two later when they suddenly do the exercise they were resistant to.
  • Give yourself plenty of time. Rushing just stresses you and baby!

TIPS from our teachers

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  • From day one – make bath time fun by introducing toys and singing songs. Splash water over your child’s body and lay them on their back moving them gently through the water maintaining eye contact and giving lots of smiles.
  • Try not to hold your baby on your hip too much between exercises so they’re less likely to want to cling to you when it’s time for the next exercise. Try to hold them in front of you instead.
  • When you are in the water try to maintain lots of eye contact and skin to skin contact – this reassures baby as well as promoting the bonding experience.
  • Don’t panic in the water the instructors know what they’re doing.
  • Give lots of praise to your child after each exercise.
  • If you are unsure about an exercise, practice with the Teachers doll before trying with baby,
  • If you have an unsettled baby – try to remain in the pool if you can. Take a toy and if there are steps have a rest on them or take yourself off to one side where you can find a bit of space and try and calm baby down. Bring a favourite toy – suitable for the water- that can help distract your baby.
  • Remember to smile – babies are very observant and likely to mirror your expressions and mood so try to act confident and happy.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask your teacher to show you something again if you are not sure, you won’t be the only one who would like a demonstration again so be brave and ask!
  • Talk to the other parents as they are all in the same situation as you so it’s nice to chat things through with them, it doesn’t even have to be swimming related.
  • You don’t have to go under the water with your baby every week but try to go under as much as you can as it is good for you to see your child under the water and it’s nice for your child to see mummy or daddy doing it too! (Remember your goggles if you prefer going under this way or wear contact lenses)
  • Arrive with your costume under your clothes but don’t forget to pack underwear for afterwards.

TIPS from Dads for Dads

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  • Arrive in Swimming Shorts and bring a spare pair to change in to.
  • Wear slip on shoes NOT lace ups – for a quick exit.

All photos are the property of Aquatots Swimming Ltd and were taken during our underwater photo shoots.

Aquatots Brews Up For Macmillan’s World Biggest Coffee Morning

Aquatots, Macmillan, Cake and surprise visitor Peppa Pig!

Aquatots swimmer Olivia feeding Peppa Pig

Coffee, Cake, Bunting and Balloons, we had them ready…well nearly all ready – I was still icing my cake 10 minutes before we opened our doors on Friday 26th September for our Coffee Morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer Research

Our managing director Fiona Munt-Whittle

The sun was shining, the kettle was boiled and the Aquatots team had home-baked a range of goodies to serve up but would anyone come?! This was our first charity event for Macmillan and knowing that we were just one of thousands of Coffee Mornings taking place throughout the UK we were a little concerned that we would be left with a lot of cake if nobody arrived (although we weren’t that distressed at the idea of having to eat it!). We need not have worried though because our first visitor arrived just after 10am and then they just kept coming!

                 Eating cakeHome-baked cakes from the Aquatots team

Alongside the coffee and cake donations we had decided to optimise the opportunity of raising valuable funds for Macmillan and so we adapted the “Guess The 100’s and 1000’s On The Cake” sweepstake game we had been provided. This allowed our Aquatots teachers to take them poolside at all of our lessons leading up to the Coffee Morning giving all the parents that could not make it on the day the chance to donate and play. In addition we created a prize draw and were very fortunate to be given some generous donations from local Gloucestershire businesses – these included:

£50 meal voucher from Tewkesbury Park Hotel
Luxurious facial from Leigh’s Therapies
24 hours in a VW ‘Glampervan’ from Comfy Campers
Hair voucher from Emma Lawson’s Ell Hair Studio in Tewkesbury
Exercises classes from Tred Training
Body lotion from Neals Yard

Together we raised a whopping £285.45 for Macmillan and had such a successful morning that we plan to make this an annual event. Thank you to all that made this possible.

Fiona Munt-Whittle
Aquatots Managing Director

Aquatots Baby Swimming Testimonial

We love getting feedback from our parents and swimmers but this is the first time we have ever had a blog testimonial written about us! If you are still in two minds about the benefits of Baby Swimming or choosing Aquatots as your preferred Swim School then read on to see some excerpts from Karen Whitlock’s blog “Stopping At Two”

“On parenting forums, there are frequent discussions on whether baby swimming lessons are worth the money. It is cheaper to go swimming at the leisure centre, where both of us can be in the water with the girls, but I haven’t regretted the money spent on the Aquatots courses for one minute”

“Aquatots courses are progressive. Everyone starts off at Duckling level and then move on through the courses at their own pace, once certain skills have been mastered”

“Fiona runs Aquatots. She is very experienced and it really shows. I have been amazed at how well Freyja has done with her”

“She (Freyja) happily dives in from the side, or throws herself in from a float (something that she has NEVER wanted to do)”

“There are free catch-up lessons if your child is ill so can’t do the lesson too! And what I have been most impressed with is that they have tried to be really accommodating with when lessons are, so the girls have theirs back-to-back”

“Aquatots do free taster sessions – so you can at least try before you buy a term of lessons”

Read the Blog in its entirety here – http://www.stoppingattwo.co.uk/post/96293594193/aquatots

Thanks to Karen for such including us in her blog, its a pleasure to teach Frejya and Emily 🙂

Fiona Munt-Whittle
Aquatots Managing Director

Swimming really DOES enhance the learning of young children.

It has been a long time coming but thanks to Professor Robyn Jorgensen, Griffith Institute for Educational Research in Australia, The Kids Alive Swim Program and Swim Australia we now have the results of a four year study that determines that children that participate in early years swimming “achieve a wide range of skills earlier than the normal population”. We are not just talking a few weeks ahead as in some developmental areas children were 20 MONTHS ahead of their expected milestones!

Take a look at this Youtube video that outlines the findings of this amazing study that tested 7000 children aged 5 and under from Australia, New Zealand and the USA from different socio-economic backgrounds:

As you can see the results are even more surprising than what was first expected with not only physical expectations being exceeded but also amazing progression in the following areas:

• Visual Motor Skills
• Oral Expression
• Mathematics Reasoning
• Brief Reading
• Story Recall
• Understanding Directions

These skills are so valuable for young children especially for when they start in full time education and so it seems logical that the earlier you start babies swimming the more opportunity they have to be leaps and bounds ahead of their milestones by the time they reach the age of 5.

“Our research is categorical, evidence-based and shows that early years swimming has children well ahead in many of the skills and processes they will apply once at school” Professor Jorgensen

“The connection to education, to improved learning, is extremely exciting and significant” Professor Paul Mazerolle

You can find out more about Professor Jorgensen and her research at her website http://www.robynjorgensen.com.au/

SOURCE: “Swimming kids are smarter” from Griffith University, http://poc-app.griffith.edu.au/news/2012/11/15/swimming-kids-are-smarter/