Austrian Babyswim Association


We are pleased to announce the
5th International ABA Conference in Vienna from May 5th until May 7th 2023.

We translate all speeches in english and german!
The conference will take place at the ****Austria Trend Parkhotel Schönbrunn, only a few minutes walk from the famous Schönbrunn Palace and the famous Schönbrunn Zoo.

Vienna shows its most beautiful side with numerous magnificent buildings from the Austrian imperial periods. The city has multiple cultural offerings. It has acquired its reputation as the capital of music due to the work of numerous famous classical musicians such as Beethoven, Mozart or Mahler.

This weekend we are looking forward to lectures and discussions that support us in our work in the water. Furthermore, we learn about new offers that have arisen due to COVID19 and hear about new scientific findings.
Between the programme items we want to give you time to exchange about the difficult situation in the last years due to Corona and the coming time with savings due to shortages in energy supplies.

Our social programme on Friday evening includes a private tour through the famous Schönbrunn Palace. On Saturday we invite all participants to a gala dinner at the ballroom of the Parkhotel to get together and get to know each other. After the dinner, the evening will turn into a ball with musical accompaniment. Accompanying persons are welcome to attend for a small fee.

On Sunday, a bus tour of Vienna can be booked as an option after the end of the conference.
Exhibitors will again have the opportunity to offer their materials for sale.

We are looking forward to meeting you at the conference in Vienna!

ABA Conference


We will start the conference on May 5th 2023 at 4pm. Registration will be possible from 2 until 4pm.

Before dinner on Friday, there will be a private tour through Schönbrunn Palace.

Speakers from different countries will give talks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Each lecture will last 45 minutes plus 15 minutes for questions afterwards. The lectures will be translated into German or English.

We are looking forward to a lively exchange of experiences during the breaks and at the gala dinner Saturday evening and the ball afterwards in the beautiful ambience of the Parkhotel. On Sunday we will close the conference at 1pm.
Please wear appropriate clothing for the evening event on Saturday. The ball will take place in the ballroom of the Parkhotel.

Following the conference, we will offer a guided tour of the city on Sunday afternoon. To join this tour we ask for binding registration.

Vienna can easily be reached by plane directly from most countries in the world. From the airport Wien-Schwechat the train CAT goes to the stop Wien-Mitte-Landstraße. To get to the hotel you have to take the underground U4 (direction Hütteldorf) to the stop “Hietzing/Kennedy Brücke” and from there it is just a few minutes’ walk to the hotel.

If you would like to visit one of our swimming schools the days before or after the conference, please feel free to ask!

ABA Conference


For your registration for the ABA-Conference from May 5th till May 7th 2023 in Vienna, please send an email to Registration deadline is April 5th 2023.

On receipt of your registration, you will be sent a booking confirmation. Due to the limited number of possible participants, please consider that the registration will be on a first come first served basis in the order that deposits are paid.
The cancellation for the participation will be charged with EUR 50,- until March 1st 2023. After this date the full amount of the fee will be retained except the participant designates a replacement participant.
For your REGISTRATION we need the following DATA
Invoice recipient
Address, city code, city, state
Sightseeing tour yes/no
Special needs for food like vegetarian, vegan, allergies…

Early bird Conference fee before November 30th 2022 560€
Conference fee from December 1st 2022 630€
(The package includes: seminar drinks, coffee breaks, Friday evening come-together-party, guided tour Schönbrunn Castle, business lunch, gala dinner and ball on Saturday, Lunch on Sunday)
Guided tour Vienna: 20€

Austria Trend Parkhotel Schönbrunn
Hietzinger Hauptstraße 10-14, 1130 Wien
Tel.: +43 1 87 804-0

For the booking of the accommodation at the Parkhotel please let them know that you belong to the conference. There are several other possibilities around the location. Feel free to choose another one.

Austrian Babyswim Association
IBAN AT29 2011 1288 2828 4600
ABA Conference 2023

ABA Conference

Austrian Cuisine

What awaits you apart from our meeting in May?

We maintain a coffee tradition with many old coffee houses, coffee in many different variations, and of course a good pastry like our famous Sachertorte, the apple strudel or the Guglhupf, a cake that has a certain shape.
Food is very important to us and we attach great importance to well-prepared dishes. But it may also be Austrian fast food - our sausages are also available in many flavors and are suitable for many occasions.
Who does not know a Wiener Schnitzel? Originally it is enjoyed without sauce, best with potato salad, the meat a tender Kalbsschnitzerl.
Of course, everything is now also available as vegetarian and vegan dishes - please just let us know if you need special dishes.
We are very much looking forward to enjoying these delights with you during the breaks, at lunch and in the evening 😃

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You are probably already curious to know who our speakers at the conference are.
From our neighbouring country we are proud to present SEBASTIAN KORP.

His lecture "Breathing experience in water" contains exciting components.
Life means breathing. We always breathe. Naturally also in water.
Every physical movement has a perceptible effect on the breath. Everyone feels the difference between resting breathing and breathing under stress. But sensations, such as warmth or cold, and feelings also have an effect on the breath. These effects are reciprocal: the breath or the movement of the breath also have an effect on the body, sensation and emotions. Breath and movement are inextricably interwoven.
We can use this interaction in many ways in the water: For example, we can stimulate the musculoskeletal system through specific exercises so that the breath can flow freely; but we can also stimulate the breath so that the musculoskeletal system is freed from superfluous tension. Both ways have an influence on the feeling for water and other basic skills in the water such as buoyancy, balance, water position and coordination skills.
However, the breath is not just a "tool"; it is never just a means to an end because it is connected to our sensations and feelings. It cannot be separated from us and instrumentalised. We are our breath. In this awareness, beyond pure mechanics, authentic (parent/child) communication and bonding takes place. A consciously perceived, flowing breath conveys security and helps to overcome fears.
After an introduction to the physiology of breathing, practical examples and exemplary exercises from baby and toddler swimming will be examined and discussed in relation to the breath and its effect on babies, parents and course leaders.
Sebastian Korp studied play and theatre education at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. During his studies, he began teaching as an aqua educator in the "Aqua & Soul" family pools founded by his mother. From 2003 to 2007 he trained as a breath therapist at the vocational school "Institut für Atemlehre München". In the meantime, he runs Aqua & Soul together with his sister as managing partner and is co-founder of the course management software WeSwim.

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CARLOS SANTOS will give this lecture at our conference. We are very pleased that he will bring his professional expertise to our event.

In the context of aquatic activities with babies, there are several methodological approaches. We find different practices, goals and purposes. Effects and benefits from exposure to the aquatic environment are advertised and often touted. In the pool, the baby evolves in response to stimulation, within a normal maturational framework. We were interested in knowing and assessing the scientific quality of the information that has been published about the theme. We’ve screened more than 30.000 titles, read 74 full-text papers that could be eligible and analyzed the 19 that fulfilled the criteria of quality. Infant development, health, and therapy in the aquatic environment were the domains founded. What are the main evidences? What do we know and what should be more studied? That’s the goal of this presentation.

CARLOS SANTOS - MSc on Physical Education by Lusofona University – Lisbon, he is now finishing his PhD, concluding the doctoral studies under the subject “Baby development in aquatic contexts - effects of stimulation and characterization of the environments”. With that purpose, he returned to the Faculty of Human Kinetics at Lisbon University, where he graduated in Sports Science 25 years ago. Carlos taught Aquatic Activities at Lusofona University since 2004 and he is also a swimming teacher, leading swimming schools since 1995. Combining the work in the University with the work in the field (swimming pool) he created and developed a methodology for lifelong teaching to swim. He presented his work in more than 10 different countries.

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Speaker 3

Unfortunately, Francoise has to cancel her participation in the conference due to health reasons.

She is one of the leading pioneers of baby swimming with a lifetime of teaching experience and innovation in aquatic activities for wellbeing.
Birthlight, the UK charity she founded, was inspired by the parenting of Amazonian rainforest people she worked with as a Cambridge anthropologist in her twenties. Being a swimmer with a passion to develop and share techniques based on scientific research, Francoise has focused on training trainers and teachers around the world. Aquatic Nurture for Newborns and Aqua Yoga for Women’s Health are two recent creations.
Birthlight has had a happy collaboration with STA since the co-development of the first Baby and Pre-School Award in 2003.
Francoise is the author of acclaimed books (Water Babies 1999, Aqua Yoga 2000 with multiple editions in English and other languages), DVDs and articles on aquanatal and baby swimming. In 2009 she received the WABC Virginia Hunt Award. A new book The Joy of Water Parenting has been commissioned by Pinter & Martin.
In her speech "Home Aquatic Foundations: from birth to the pool" she will tell us about:
Taking very young babies to pools has been popular in recent years but there is growing evidence of contra-indications. During lockdown, Birthlight’s Aquatic Nurture for Newborns went online via Zoom. Outcomes and parents’ feedback exceeded all expectations and indicate that home aquatic foundations are worth integrating in swim-schools.
Moving away from a focus on primitive and postural reflexes, this seminar will equip parent-baby swimming teachers with a visual understanding of young babies’ rhythms in water. Video clips will illustrate the simple skills that can help parents to read their babies’ cues and allow them maximum freedom of movement in baby baths, in home baths and spas. The transition from pre-birth uterine environment to the early form of diving response (not gag reflex!) is best supported without conditioning.
The contained and intimate environment of the home bath ticks all boxes for developmental, safety, teaching and management purposes, as an effective baseline for baby led foundations of swimming.

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Speaker 4

Thank you Alena for coming to our conference!

My name is Alena Sarri from Canberra in Australia. I own and operate Aquatots swim school with my family. We teach over 6000 children weekly for regular sim classes. Aquatots has been operating for 20 years and I have been teaching for 24 years.
My passion is the infant, toddlers and preschool levels so am excited to be involved with a conference that is directed to those specific areas.
I would love to share Aquatots water safety weeks for children under the age of 3 years. We do feel that this is an area that is forgotten when running a water safety week as many assume babies and toddlers cannot perform the required skills. Aquatots has been running our water safety weeks since the beginning and all levels of our program participate each term (4 terms per year)
By including the younger classes in this ongoing program, we are finding that before children get to the preschool levels of our program, they have a sound idea of many rescues and safety requirements in and around the aquatic environment.
Our unique water safety program assists the babies in the classes to gain the skills required in a developmentally appropriate, fun, and engaging way. Many of the activities will also see participating parents and guardians gaining a deeper understanding of why it is important to practice these skills regularly and be involved in some real-life simulations of what may happen.

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Speaker 5

Do you know Jo Wilson? No? Come to our conference you will be happy to meet her 😃.

Jo Wilson, is the founder of the aquatic child development program: Aqua Sensory. Her vision is to nurture the next generation by sharing her love of sensory harmony – in water.
Jo, believes in a sensitive sensory approach to baby swimming, she is the author of the book: Bath Babies: Creating Beautiful Bonds in Water, an International Tutor with the Swimming Teachers Association (STA) and runs two family swim centres in the UK, which she built with her husband, Christian.
Her presentation “First Impressions: A sensory approach to baby swimming,” offers an opportunity to provide a real insight into the crucial period of baby sensory development through the powerful combination of movement and touch – in water.
In Jo’s ‘visual’ presentation’, we will FEEL into the sensory sensitives of the baby. Jo will guide on how to listen deeply and tune into what baby is saying. Because every experience in the water for baby, is a new unique journey. For us as a baby swim teacher it might be a lesson plan, but to a baby it is a complete immersive experience, awakening all their senses, moving all their muscles.
When we start to view the world from baby’s unique perspective, their unique senses, we begin to recognise that every move, action, and sound in the water shapes their experiences. As well as illuminating their mind, their body and provides a deeper sense to unfold who they are.
Jo says; “let’s support, guide, not teach or tell. Let’s empower our swim parents to find their own inner guidance and intuition. Let’s start to baby swim from within.”

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Speaker 6

We want to introduce our next speaker for the conference.
Why is joy contagious? Why do we suffer when someone else is hurt? One baby starts to cry during a swimming lesson and other babies start crying as well...

To sense joy, grief or compassion with those around us is tightly connected to our capability of feeling empathy. The foundation for this ability is created very early in life, when babies imitate facial expressions or gestures of their parents.
Special neurons, so called mirror neurons, are activated through the presence of people around us and allow us to feel what others feel.

Nora Wisiak will give us an introduction to the Power of Mirror Neurons and will show us, how important (positive) interpersonal relationships are for our social development.
Nora Wisiak is working as a babyswimming instructor for 15 years now, on top of being a Craniosacral practitioner and teacher for the Viennese School of Craniosacral Biodynamics for several years. Additional training for working with babies and children in her Cranio practice has also enhanced her work in the pool with babies and parents.

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Speaker 7

During pregnancy and after birth, you experience pure happiness, a great bond with your child and all women fit into their role as mothers without any problems. This is how it is portrayed in the media and many women feel pressured by this, because a large number of young mothers cannot understand this.

They develop depression, negative feelings towards their child or suffer from an anxiety disorder. Especially women who have high expectations of themselves fall into a hole because they don't live up to these expectations, are chronically tired, the figure isn't top again in the first month or the relationship with the partner turns out to be difficult because of the child.

To what extent could distraction in the form of a baby swimming course and getting to know other mothers help? Mag.a Katrin Kristjansdottir and Mag.a Marion Falzeder try to get to the bottom of this in an Austria-wide study.

Katrin Kristjansdottir is a clinical psychologist and professor at a private university. Katrin has worked in maternity hospitals and children's hospitals and now runs a private practice.

Marion Falzeder is a sociologist, cranio-sacral practitioner, trauma therapist according to the Somatic Experiencing method and in training to become a WATSU practitioner. She has been working as a swimming coach for 25 years, she founded her swimming school Nessie-Verein Wasserspaß in 2000. Since 2000 she has been an instructor for the Austrian Babyswim Association (ABA) and since 2015 she has been the chairwoman of the ABA.

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Speaker 8

There is one speaker we haven't told you yet - our surprise for you: Robert Strauss will come to Austria.

There is sooo much to tell about Robert that we can't even list everything, the most important:
Professor Robert Strauss has dedicated his professional
career to water safety in, on and under water. He has enriched the lives of babies, toddlers, school-aged children and adults as a coach by helping them become safer and stronger swimmers. Coach Robert is known for developing skills based on soft touch and soft voice; these skills have also been taught to thousands of coaches* around the world. In May 2019, Coach Robert was awarded the Virginia Hunt Newman Award, by the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF). In September 2019, the NADI Water Drop was awarded, the most prestigious award in the swimming industry
in South America.
His presentation "Live in the Water" is about trust and empathy with our students.

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Speaker 9

Due to health problems, Francoise Freedman unfortunately has to cancel her participation in the meeting.
However, we are very happy that we could win Zara Peasland instead!

Due to health problems, Francoise Freedman unfortunately has to cancel her participation in the meeting.
However, we are very happy that we could win Zara Peasland instead!
She will present on ‘Working with Reflexes in Early Years Swimming’
We learn through movement long before we consciously learn with our brains. Movement is the critical ingredient for neural development and organisation.
Early swim experiences in warm water help to bring a baby back into a place where their movement reactions and responses (primitive reflexes) are slowed down by the natural resistance and density of the water. Thus, replicating the womb experience feeding directly into a baby's developing sensory system.
Infant reflexes work with incoming sensory information to create an essential and positive impact on child development.
Understanding reflex patterns in the water, their roles and their impact on cognitive, emotional, and behavioural development is vital when working with babies and children in any setting. We have a unique classroom to ‘play and observe’ when working in water. It offers a space for a baby to experiment with movement patterns through expansion, rotation, and exploration. Movement patterns can be experienced long before they emerge in land-based settings.
We can observe how children’s learn to swim journey is directly affected by reflex movement patterns that remain active in their body systems. But an unintegrated reflex can go beyond affecting just their swimming; it can impact so many other areas of a child's life – at school, with friends, eating, sleeping and impulse control.
Having a teacher's toolbox of exercises and activities that work with the reflexes of a young baby in the pool gives you another window into the world of child development. It allows you to layer the learning and adapt activities for each child within an inclusive group.
Zara is a Swim Teacher from the UK and co-founder of ‘Aqua Education Academy’ with Julie Kamara, who work closely with the STA and Birthlight. As Reflex Integration and Movement Therapists, Aqua Education is focused on bringing more awareness and understanding about the role of reflexes in a child’s development, and how Swim Teachers can observe and work WITH the infant reflexes in a positive, functional and integrative way in their existing learn to swim programme.