Water Competencies Research

Traditionally, swimming ability is taught to prevent drowning. In 2007 the International Life Saving Federation (ILSF), released a position statement regarding ‘Swimming and Water Safety Education’ highlighting the inclusion of water safety knowledge.

International research (Stallman, Moran, Quan, & Langendorfer, 2017) provides evidence of 15 water competencies that integrate the physical, cognitive, and affective attributes needed to prevent drowning.

Our eLearning platform links to the 15 water competencies.

The evidence base for water competency

The reference lists below relates to recent research that informs the promotion of water competency in New Zealand. Wherever possible, the research reported has been conducted in a New Zealand setting so as to best to inform the evidence-based promotion of drowning prevention by all individuals and organisations. Where evidence is not available locally, peer reviewed sources from published overseas studies have been cited.

Our own Teresa Stanley has recently completed her doctoral studies on one of the Water Competencies listed below (13. Assessing Personal Competency). The research examines the gaps between how competent adults think they are in open water, and how good they actually are. Some of this research is listed below.

For a more complete review of the international evidence base for water competence, it is recommended that main source of information can be found in the following freely available articles:

Stallman, R.K., Moran, K., Quan, L., & Langendorfer, S. (2017). From swimming skill to water competence: Towards a more inclusive drowning prevention future. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 2(3), 1-35. Published online 7 October 2017.

Langendorfer, S.J., Moran, K., & Stallman, R.K. (2018). Guiding Principles: Applying water competence to drowning preventionInternational Journal of Aquatic Research and Education 11(2), Article 22. Published online 30 October.

Stallman, R.K., Moran, K., Brenner, R.A., & Rahman, A.(2014). Swimming and water survival competence. In J.J.L.M. Bierens (Ed.) Drowning: Prevention, rescue, treatment (Part III, pp.197-206), 2 Edition. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag GmbH & Co.KG.

Moran, K. (2013). Defining ‘swim and survive’ in the context of New Zealand drowning prevention strategies: A discussion paper. Auckland: WaterSafe Auckland.

Water Safety New Zealand’s Water Skills for Life Framework incorporates many of these competencies.

WATER COMPETENCIES FOR DROWNING PREVENTION

Water Competency 1: Safe Entry
Moran, K. (2013). Jumping to (fatal) conclusions: An analysis of video film on a social networking web site of recreational jumping from height into water. International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, 21(1), 47-53. Published online 21 January 2013.

Moran, K. (2008). Taking the Plunge: Diving Risk Practices and Perceptions of New Zealand Youth. Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 19(1), 68-71.

Moran K., Blitvich, J.D., Petrass, L.A., & McElroy, G.K. (2021). Can You Get in (Safely)? Practice and perceptions of safe water entry among young adults. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education: Vol. 13: No. 2, Article 4.

Water Competency 2: Breath Control
Stallman, R.K., Junge M, & Blixt T. (2008). The teaching of swimming based on a model derived from the causes of drowning. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 2(4), 372-382.

Junge, M., Blixt, T., & Stallman, R. (2010). The construct validity of a traditional 25m test of swimming competence. In P-L. Kjendlie, R. Stallman, and J. Cabri, (Eds.) Proceedings of the XI Int. Symposium for Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, pp. 331-32, 16- 19th June, Norwegian School of Sports Science, Oslo.

Water Competency 3: Stationary surface competencies

Moran, K. (2019). Can You Float? Part I – Perceptions and practice of unsupported flotation competency among young adultsInternational Journal of Aquatic Research and Education: Vol. 10: No. 4, Article 5 DOI: 10.25035/ijare10.04.04 Published online 30 Jan 2019.

Water Competency 4: Water orientation competencies

Junge, M., Blixt, T., & Stallman, R. (2010). The construct validity of a traditional 25m test of swimming competence. In P-L. Kjendlie, R. Stallman, and J. Cabri, (Eds.) Proceedings of the XI Int. Symposium for Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, pp. 331-32, 16- 19th June, Norwegian School of Sports Science, Oslo.

Stallman, R.K., Junge M, & Blixt T. (2008). The teaching of swimming based on a model derived from the causes of drowning. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 2(4), 372-382.

Water Competency 5: Swimming competencies

Moran, K., Stallman, R.K. Kjendlie, P-L., Dahl, D., Blitvich, J.D., Petrass, L.A., McElroy, G.K., Goya, T., Teramoto, K., Matsui, A., & Shimongata, S. (2012). Can you swim? Real and perceived water competency among young adults. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 6(2), 122-135. 

Petrass, L.A., Blitvich, J.D., McElroy, K., Harvey, J., & Moran, K. (2012). Can you swim? Self-report and actual swimming competence among young adults in Ballarat, Australia. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, Education, 6(2), 136-148. 

Goya, T., Teramoto, K., Matsui, A., Shimongata, S., Doi, Y., & Moran, K. (2011). Real and perceived swimming ability, perceptions of drowning risk among teachers college students. Bulletin of Aichi University of Education, 60(3), 35-46.  

Stallman, R.K., Moran, K., Brenner, R.A., & Rahman, A.(2014). Swimming and water survival competence. In J.J.L.M. Bierens (Ed.) Drowning: Prevention, rescue, treatment (Part III, pp.197-206), 2 Edition. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag GmbH & Co.KG.

Brenner, R.A., Moran, K., Stallman, RK., Gilchrist, J., & McVan, J. (2006). Swimming ability and the risk of drowning. In J.J.L.M Bierens (Ed.), Handbook on Drowning: Prevention, rescue treatment, Chapter 3.8.1. pp.112-117. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

Water Competency 6: Underwater competencies

Pearn, J.H., Franklin, R., & Peden, A.E. (2015) Hypoxic Blackout: Diagnosis, risks, prevention. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 9(3), 342-47.

Franklin, R.C., Peden, A.E., & Pearn, J.H. (2018). Drowning deaths in Australia caused by hypoxic blackout, 2002–2015. Medical Journal of Australia, 208(6), 271. Published online 2 April 2018.

Water Competency 7: Safe Exit

Moran, K. (2014). Getting out of the water – how hard can that be? International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 8(4), 321-333.

Connolly, J. (2014). Drowning: The exit problem. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 8(1), 73-97.

Water Competency 8: Use of Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

Moran, K. (2019). Can You Float? Part 2 – Perceptions and practice of lifejacket competency among young adults. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 11(3), Article 4. DOI: 10.25035/ijare10.04.04 Published online 2 March 2019.

Water Competency 9: Clothed Water Competencies

Moran, K. (2015). Can you swim in clothes? Reflections on the perception and reality of the effect of clothing on water competency. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 9(2), 116-135.

Moran, K. (2014). Can you swim in clothes? An exploratory investigation of the effect of clothing on water competency. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 8(4), 338-350. 

Barwood, M.J., Bates, V., Long, G., & Tipton, M.J. (2011). “Float first”: Trapped air between clothing layers significantly improves buoyancy after immersion. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education 5(2), 147-163.

Water Competency 10: Open Water Competencies

Kjendlie, P-L., Pedersen, T., Thoresen, T., Setlo, T., Moran, K., & Stallman, R. (2013). Can you swim in waves? Children’s swimming, floating and entry skills in calm and simulated unsteady water conditionsInternational Journal of Aquatic Research and Education7(4), 301-313. 

Bird, F., House, J.R., & Tipton, M. (2015a). Adaptation of the cold shock response and cooling rates on swimming following repeated cold-water immersions in a group of children aged 10–12 yearsInternational Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 9(2), 149-161.

Bird, F., House, J.R., & Tipton, M. (2015b). The physiological response of immersion in cold water and cooling rates during swimming in a group of children aged 10–11 yearsInternational Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 9(2), 162-174.

Water Competency 11: Knowledge of Local Hazards

Moran, K., & Gilmore, A. (2018). Children’s understanding of water safety and perceptions of risk at the beach. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 53(2), 227-239. Published online 5 September. 

Pidgeon-Willcox, S. M. Kool, B, & Moran, K. (2018). Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviours of New Zealand Youth in Surf Beach EnvironmentsInternational Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 10(2), Article 6. DOI: 10.25035/ijare.10.02.06

Moran, K. (2017). Rock-based fisher safety promotion: A decade on. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 10(2), Article 1. Published online 13 June 2017.

Moran, K., & Ferner, D. (2017). Water safety and aquatic recreation among international tourists in New Zealand, International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 10(1), Article 5. Published online 13 June 2017.

Moran, K., & Willcox S. (2013). Water safety practices and perceptions of ‘new’ New Zealanders. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 7(2), 136-146. DOI: 10.25035/ijare.07.02.05

Moran, K. (2011). Rock-based fisher safety promotion: Five years on. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 5(2), 164-173. 

Moran, K., & Willcox S. (2010). New settlers, old problems: Facilitating water safety education for new residents in aquatically oriented New Zealand. Journal of the Pacific Circle Consortium of Education, 22(2), 49-60

Moran, K. (2008). Will they sink or swim? New Zealand youth water safety knowledge and skills. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 2(2), 114-127. 

Moran, K. (2008). Rock fishers’ practice and perception of water safety. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 2(2), 128-139.

Water Competency 12: Coping with Risk

Moran, K., Webber, J., & Stanley, T. (2018). Protection Motivation Theory (PMT), risk of drowning, and water safety perceptions of adult caregivers/parents, Open Sports Science Journal, 11, 50-59. Published online 31 July 2018.

Pigeon-Willcox, S., Kool, B., & Moran, K. (2018). Perceptions of the risk of drowning at surf beaches among New Zealand Youth, Injury Control & Safety Promotion. Published online 8 Feb 2018. 

Stanley, T., & Moran, K. (2018). Self-estimates of swimming and rescue competence, and the perceptions of the risk of drowning among minority groups in New Zealand – lifesaving or life threatening? Journal of Education and Human Development, 7(1), 82-91. Published online March 2018.

Stanley, T., & Moran, K. (2017). Parental perceptions of water competence and drowning risk for themselves and their children in an open water environment, International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education 10(1), Article 4. Published online 9 February 2017.

Moran, K. (2010). Risk of drowning: The iceberg phenomenon re-visited. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 4(2), 115-126.

Moran, K. (2009). Parent/caregiver perceptions and practice of water safety at the beach. International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, 16(4), 215-221.

McCool, J.P., Ameratunga, S., Moran, K., & Robinson, E. (2009). Taking a risk perceptions approach to improving beach swimming safety. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 16(4), 360-66

Water Competency 13: Assess Personal Competency

Stanley, T., & Moran, K. (2018). Self-estimates of swimming and rescue competence, and the perceptions of the risk of drowning among minority groups in New Zealand – lifesaving or life threatening? Journal of Education and Human Development, 7(1), 82-91. Published online March 2018.

Moran, K. (2017). Rock-based fisher safety promotion: A decade on. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 10(2), Article 1. Published online 13 June 2017.

Stanley, T., & Moran, K. (2017). Parental perceptions of water competence and drowning risk for themselves and their children in an open water environment. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 10(1), Article 4. Published online 9 February 2017.

Stanley, T., & Moran, K. (2021). Perceptions of water competencies, drowning risk and aquatic participation among older adults. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 13(2), 6.

Water Competency 14: Recognize/Assist a Drowning Person

Moran, K., Webber, J., & Stanley, T. (2016). The 4Rs of Aquatic Rescue: Educating the public about safety and risks of bystander rescue, Injury Control & Safety Promotion, 24(3), 396-405.  Published online: 16 Sep 2016.

Moran, K., & Stanley, T. (2013). Readiness to rescue: Bystander perceptions of their capacity to respond in a drowning emergency. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 7(4), 290-300.

Pearn, J.H., & Franklin, R.C. (2012). The impulse to rescue: Rescue altruism and the challenge of saving the rescuer. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 6(4), 325-335.

Water Competency 15: Water Safety Attitudes & Values

Moran, K., & Willcox S. (2013). Water safety practices and perceptions of ‘new’ New Zealanders. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 7(2), 136-146.

Moran, K. (2011). (Young) Men behaving badly: Dangerous masculinities and the risk of drowning in aquatic leisure activities, Annals of Leisure Research, 14(2-3), 260-272.

McCool, J.P., Moran, K., Ameratunga, S., & Robinson, E. (2008). New Zealand beachgoers’ swimming behaviours, swimming abilities and perception of drowning risk. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 2(1), 7-15.

Moran, K. (2007). Water safety knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of young Pasifika New Zealanders. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 42(1&2), 161-169.