Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1-4. This is such a terrifying statistic for a mom, especially when you live in Florida, which is literally a swamp surrounded by ocean on three sides. So, when I heard about Infant Swimming Resource (ISR), I was immediately intrigued. G started these lessons last week and I’m so amazed at the progress he’s already made.
Before I dive into (no pun intended) my experience with ISR, let me explain what it is and why I chose this route over traditional lessons.
Infant Swimming Resource
ISR was founded in 1966 and is now the global leader in survival swimming lessons for infants and young children. Their mission, “Not One More Child Drowns,” is the foundation of everything they do and the techniques used by their independent instructors are based on over 45 years of research.
“ISR believes pool fences, supervision, and pool alarms are important parts of a necessary multi-layered approach to drowning prevention. However, traditional lines of defense break down, and the over 4,000 drowning deaths per year bear a grim testament to the fact that traditional approaches are missing a key component: the child. ISR’s core conviction is that the child is the most important part of a drowning prevention strategy and our over 300,000 ISR graduates and 800 documented survival stories are proof that children can save themselves. Children are curious, capable, and have an uncanny ability to overcome obstacles like pool fences; at ISR we take that ability and teach them skills to potentially save themselves if they find themselves in the water alone.”
Babies can start these lessons at 6 months and will learn how to roll onto their backs, float, rest and breathe until they are rescued. Children who are 1-6 years old learn to swim until they need air and then how to roll onto their backs and float to take a breath and rest, and so on until they reach safety or are rescued.
The lessons are one-on-one with the instructor for 10 minutes a day, five days a week; and they last 4-6 weeks, depending on the child, so it is a big commitment.
Why I Chose ISR vs. Traditional Lessons
I chose to enroll G in ISR lessons rather than traditional lessons for peace of mind. Traditional mommy/daddy-and-me classes sounds like tons of fun and are definitely valuable for a variety of reasons. Heck, I may even enroll him in those sometime in the future.
But the new mom anxiety in me was secretly freaking out about the pond across the street from our house and our annual beach vacation this summer. So enrolling him in these lessons gave me some extra peace of mind.
The First Week
I felt good about putting him in ISR and felt confident that I’m doing what’s best for him…until the weekend before.
I was THAT mom.
The one googling every horrible tragedy that could occur around water.
The one who emailed the instructor the day before lessons started and asked about dry drowning even after I saw numerous articles telling me that it isn’t actually a thing. (And the instructor confirmed that.)
Our instructor was super nice and answered all of my questions. She assured me that she understood where I was coming from as a mother herself and encouraged me to ask more questions if I thought of any.
I brought G to the first lesson still feeling really nervous. He had started acting super clingy with me the previous week so as soon as I handed him to the instructor he started screaming…and he screamed for the entire lesson.
It’s really common for babies to cry at first. They’re being held by a stranger and being taught to do something they’ve never experienced before.
So, he cried the entire first week (and so did all of the other babies who went before and after G while we were there).
And then the next Monday came and it’s like someone flipped a switch. I handed him over. He whimpered for a second and then he was perfectly fine.
The instructor showed him her waterfall, which he happily splashed in. And then she began the lesson and he was rolling over and floating almost entirely by himself. At one point he started to kick his legs and flap his arms like he was trying to swim.
I honestly think he cried as much as he did the first week because he wanted me to hold him. He LOVES water. Anytime my husband and I have taken him to a pool or given him a bath he’s as happy as can be.
I’m amazed at what he can do in just a week and a half of these lessons and can’t wait to see where he is in a few weeks!