Did you know that drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1-4 ,?
When you know better, you do better. Unfortunately, I know better because one of my dear friends lost her daughter in a drowning accident. Now I can tell you more about water safety than you’d have ever thought to ask. But I am so glad that I learned, because now I take every precaution to keep my daughter safe in and around water.
Infant Swimming Resource, or ISR, teaches kids age 6 months and older self-rescue skills and survival swimming. The content and method of lesson delivery is what sets it apart from traditional swim lessons. At a minimum, students of ISR will learn to roll over and float on their back to rest or until help arrives. Students who are older and more competent will learn to roll back to a swimming position and alternate this series until they reach safety (called the swim-float-swim sequence).
What Makes ISR Different
Lesson format: ISR lessons are delivered five days per week, for ten minutes each, over the course of approximately six weeks. This might seem wildly inconvenient, but it’s best practice for this work. The short lessons ensure that kids don’t become fatigued, and the daily repetition helps to instill muscle memory.
Age: Other swim schools don’t teach this same skill set until children are 2-3 years old. Before ISR, we attempted infant swim lessons through a local organization and were sorely disappointed, as the lessons focused only on comfort in the water. My daughter did not leave those lessons prepared for an emergency.
Theory: Not only does ISR teach kids the self-rescue skills they need in the water, but it also includes a set of principles for families to ensure water safety. These principles are:
- Effective Supervision
- Pool Fences
- Survival Swimming Lessons
More than just swim: Infant Swim Resource is truly designed as a resource for you as a parent. The organization offers recommendations for all layers of water safety, including how to educate others.
Myths About ISR
It’s emotionally traumatic for the child.
My daughter’s ISR teacher is one of the warmest, friendliest, most hospitable humans I’ve ever met. She nurtures my daughter through the entirety of her learning, and if my kiddo does get upset, Ms. Erin is terrific at calming her. Infants and toddlers in ISR lessons might cry or seem upset. Those tears are worth the life-saving lesson they’re learning.
My child will get thrown in the water.
An ISR teacher will NEVER throw your child in the water. Near the end of lessons, the teacher will put your child into the water in different positions to mimic different circumstances, but it is always with close proximity and total safety. For my daughter, this was her favorite lesson!
It’s great to learn to float, but they’ll never learn to swim!
I’ll let this video respond to that one.
Things ISR Taught Me (that I wouldn’t have known otherwise):
- Flotation devices, including puddle jumpers and arm floaties, put your child in the drowning position: mouth at water level, head back, body vertical. Frequent use of these tools builds muscle memory for the drowning position, instead of training them to float on their back. Swimming to safety requires a horizontal position, and ISR teaches just that.
- These common flotation devices also build a false sense of security in kids, giving them the confidence that they can swim on their own. This can be dangerous when kids take their floatation device off and head confidently toward the water. For this reason, my daughter will never wear them. This is a VERY unpopular opinion, and I stand by it. And because of what my daughter learned in her ISR lessons, I feel comfortable letting her swim and play without them (with my active supervision and other layers of protection, of course).
- Effective supervision is more than you think. I now know to designate a “water watcher,” an adult who commits to supervise swimmers at all times without distractions for a specific timed interval. Lots of children drown in the presence of multiple adults. Designating a water watcher can literally save lives.
There are so many options for youth swim lessons, and I know it can be hard to choose. I hope that you will at least consider ISR for its invaluable, life-saving work.
May is National Water Safety Month, and rightfully so: most drownings occur between May and August. Here are some fast facts on open water drowning, especially relevant here in the Great Lakes State.