'I could barely watch': Auckland swim coach slams video of toddler learning to swim

A video showing a woman throwing a fully clothed toddler underwater in an effort to teach them to swim has been slammed by the director of an Auckland swim school.

The footage of the 18-month-old, not shot in New Zealand, was originally posted on TikTok before being taken down. 

Horst Miehe of Swimgym Auckland said he found the video "incredibly difficult to watch".

"I could barely watch it, we certainly would not subject a child to that level of distress," Miehe told Newshub.

"If you're looking for a quick solution and don't care about the ongoing mental health of your child, then have a crack at this technique."

Miehe said he found the cap pulled over the child's eyes alarming.

"An 18-month-old does not have enough awareness to be in the water in clothes, crying is a good trigger that something is not right."

The video showed the toddler submerged underwater for more than ten seconds.

"At that age, it's too long to be dunked underwater," he told Newshub.

Miehe said he believed the child's instructor was using a program called infant self-rescue.

The controversial technique which "differs from traditional swimming lessons" teaches children as young as six months to "save themselves". 

The program has been condemned by experts for causing children distress.

"Swim lessons should be fun and supportive with lots of encouragement," Miehe said.

The video of the 18-month old is also causing a splash online. 

The TikTok video was subsequently shared on Facebook, where many have slammed the "traumatic" technique as akin to "abuse".

"I know they were trying to teach him but they did it the wrong way and this is pissing me off real bad, he could've actually drowned," wrote Dora Rose, who shared it to Facebook.

"A baby doesn't need to be taught this way," one person wrote. "This is abuse." 

Not everyone finds it offensive, though. 

"I see absolutely nothing wrong here," wrote another. "She is putting the kid in a life-like position if they were to fall into water...what do you think was so bad about this?"

The video has been viewed 127,000 times so far. 

Last year there were 78 preventable drowning deaths in New Zealand, according to Water Safety NZ. So far this year, eight people have died in the water.