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Utility of a scale to assess Australian children’s perceptions of their swimming competence and factors associated with child and parent perception

journal contribution
posted on 16.08.2020, 00:00 authored by Carla De Pasquale, Liliane De Sousa Morgado, Boris Jidovtseff, Kristine De Martelaer, Lisa BarnettLisa Barnett
Issue Addressed
Drowning is a global public health issue. Aims were to assess: (a) face validity of the “Pictorial Scale of Perceived Water Competence (PSPWC),” (b) the association between child and parent perception of child swimming competence and (c) factors associated with perception of child swimming competence.

Child‐parent dyads and swim instructors were recruited for a mixed method study. Children aged 4‐8 years (n = 51) reported on: familiarity, progressions and their own swim competence in 17 swimming situations. Parents (n = 51) reported on child competence and swimming experience. Swim instructors (n = 15) were interviewed. Spearman's rank correlation was used to assess whether child and parent swim perception were associated. The Mann‐Whitney U test, Wilcoxon signed‐rank test or Kruskal‐Wallis test were used to assess which factors were associated with child and/or parent report.

Children reported high familiarity of scenarios and could sequence items. Swim instructors concluded the PSPWC depicted swim skills accurately. There was no association between child and parent perception of children's swimming ability. Swimming level was positively associated with child perception but not parent proxy report. Swimming lesson experience, child sex, country of birth and disadvantage were not associated with child perception or parent proxy report. Older children perceived higher swimming competence but parent report was not associated with child age.

Children have a better understanding of their swim competence than their parents do, suggesting parent education is needed.

So what?
The PSPWC could be used by teachers (both swimming and classroom) to inform parents how their child estimates their swim competence. If use of this tool was incorporated into education practice this could assist in creating awareness, which can be the start of advocacy towards the creation of policy to assist in the provision of accessible swim education for all Australian children.



Health Promotion Journal of Australia


Early View


Online Version of Record before inclusion in an issue


John Wiley & Sons


Oxford, Eng.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2020, Australian Health Promotion Association