Research the Use of a Dry Swimming Aid (VR) to Assist Swimming Skill Development

Medical, Biological and other Sciences


  • This project’s start date is postponed due to COVID-19, however is still accepting applications. The project is tentatively due to start in September 2020.
  • This internship is able to cover project costs for domestic students only.


Life Saving Victoria (est. 2002) is an initiative of the Royal Life Saving Society Australia Victoria Branch (est. 1904) and Surf Life Saving Victoria (est. 1947).

Operating as a social enterprise, we are an independent company that is limited by guarantee. Life Saving Victoria is a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) and has Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status with the Australian Taxation Office.

We have over 35,000 volunteer members and employ more than 500 staff. Together, we work with communities, educational institutions, government agencies, businesses and the broader aquatic industry, to achieve our vision and mission.


Drowning is a leading cause of death among children aged 0-14 years. Globally, there are over 140,000 child-drowning deaths annually. One of the key causes of child-drowning deaths is a child’s lack of survival swimming skills and poor understanding of dangers around water. While multiple strategies to address drowning in the 0-4 age year group have been implemented, a greater focus is required to address drowning in the 5-14 age group.

From 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2018, there were almost 1,000 child-drowning incidents in Victoria (103 fatal drownings, 287 Emergency Department presentations, and 609 hospital admissions). Research conducted by Life Saving Victoria (LSV) in 2012/2013, found that over 39,000 Victorian children are potentially leaving primary school unable to swim 50 metres continuously, which is considered the minimum swimming competency requirement for children by completion of their primary education (aged 12 years). Consequently, at that time, Victoria had the lowest reported swimming and water safety competency levels in Australia; with teachers in 2013 estimating that 60 per cent students left primary school unable to swim 50 metres continuously.

Barriers exist that prevent or limit participation in swimming and water safety education for families, schools and the aquatic industry, including:

  • Limited safe, clean and accessible water ways
  • Lack of affordability of swimming lessons
  • Cultural and religious barriers

With swimming and water safety reinforced in the Victorian Curriculum and State Government funding to support schools to deliver on these requirements, there is renewed demand for innovative techniques to meet these requirements and facilitate learning outside the aquatic setting. The dry swimming aid is a novel, exciting approach to develop swimming skills and confidence in water through motor skill development combined with immersive virtual reality technology without the user entering the water.

The aim of the project is to determine whether the use of a dry swimming aid in conjunction with swimming lessons by children increases confidence in water and swimming skills more quickly than for children who participate in swimming lessons without a dry swimming aid.

The specific objectives are to measure the impact of the dry swimming aid when used in combination with a swimming program, on children’s:

1. Experience using the dry swimming aid in terms of:

  • attraction, engagement and realism,
  • level of physical comfort,
  • feelings of confidence and perceived safety using the aid and, in the water, and

2. Swimming skill acquisition (freestyle and propulsion skills and floating)

The research hypothesis is that there will be a reduction in the time required for children to learn how to swim by improving technique and increasing knowledge of how to swim.


If you’re a PhD student and meet some or all the below we want to hear from you. We strongly encourage women, indigenous and disadvantaged candidates to apply:

  • An understanding of biomechanics in sport.
  • An understanding of virtual reality technology methodologies and applications.
  • Demonstrated experience in data analysis, evaluation and evidence-based research methods.
  • Well-developed interpersonal skills, including an ability to provide effective and appropriate advice and information to a variety of people and to use discretion with confidential information.
  • Evidence of effective written and communication skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to work and solve problems independently while at the same time working within a team environment.
  • Computer literacy, including experience with MS word and MS Excel and statistical packages.


The research project will involve testing a dry swimming aid prototype to enhance one’s ability to learn and develop swimming strokes and improve confidence around water. The aid is designed to improve understanding of swimming for learning water safety and survival swimming, without immersion in water. The intention is to reduce the time required for children to learn how to swim by increasing muscle memory and improving technique and comprehension of skills.

The dry swimming aid will have the ability to be used in different learning environments, which include: school classrooms, aquatic facilities, parks, open community spaces and beachside locations.

Research into the aid will determine effectiveness in enhancing learning in conjunction with a swimming and water safety program.


The intern will receive $3,000 per month of the internship, usually in the form of stipend payments.

It is expected that the intern will primarily undertake this research project during regular business hours, spending at least 80% of their time on-site with the industry partner. The intern will be expected to maintain contact with their academic mentor throughout the internship either through face-to-face or phone meetings as appropriate.

The intern and their academic mentor will have the opportunity to negotiate the project’s scope, milestones and timeline during the project planning stage.

Port Melbourne, VIC
3 months
Domestic students only
APR - 1341



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