The Swim Whisperer

Children with Challenges – Aquatic Expert

  • Are you a parent or carer for a child with challenges?
  • Do you worry about your child when they encounter aquatic environments?
  • Would you like to feel more confident and relaxed knowing your child is safe around water?


Hi I’m Ruth Smith – The Swim Whisperer. One of Australia’s leading aquatic educator for children with challenges. While any child can be a handful, those with physical or intellectual disabilities create extra degrees of concern. For over 30 years I have studied and worked with both children and adults in the water and on dry land!

While I specialise in helping children with challenges become safer around water, our consistent focus is on ensuring that the land-based impacts for each child are also significant. Consistent immersion leads to stronger gross motor skills, increased body awareness, improved limb coordination and enhanced self confidence.

Let me give you one recent example

Max, a 4 year old, loud but non verbal Cerebral Palsy boy was progressively losing his ability to walk.  The family’s coastal lifestyle meant that social occasions took them to the beach, friend’s back yard pools and estuaries.  Apart from using the water to strengthen his legs it was vital that Max was water safe. For a long time his parents avoided the embarrassment regarding his behaviour and the significant logistics of taking him to swimming lessons.

They were concerned about water temperature, the instructor’s ability to handle his behaviour, other kids in the lesson and the expense. Six months since beginning weekly lessons we now have delighted, more relaxed parents and a stronger, safer little boy. Small improvements for Max were like rocket fuel for the family’s collective well being and hope for Max. A fantastic investment in Max’s health and future.

Not every set of circumstances is the same however some usual components for success include:

  • Understanding you as the parent to ensure that adult fears of water are in check
  • Helping parents understand the potential physical, social and cognitive health benefits of immersion within the reality of each child’s challenges. As you know, progress can be slow!
  • Assessment of the child’s abilities, past experiences & fears
  • Development of an individualized plan
  • Suggestions for lesson preparation and follow up
  • Lesson based – familiarisation, safe immersion, propulsion, self rescue, body awareness, muscle conditioning and confidence building.

If you would like to know how we could help you or those you know then contact us below. You can either submit some information for me to consider or leave a note for me to call you.

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