When we bought our current house back in the Fall of 2014, my husband and I casually discussed putting a pool in the backyard at some point. I honestly didn’t think we would ever actually follow through with this idea, and that it was just something fun to discuss and dream about. But as I transitioned from working full time to being a stay at home mom, I started to revisit the conversation with my husband about putting in a pool. To be honest, me lobbying was purely for selfish reasons. Who wouldn’t prefer the convenience of stepping into their own backyard and jumping into a pool versus packing up all the pool stuff you need with young children, loading up the car, and driving to the community pool.
Of course, when the time was right for us to move forward with building our pool, I had just had our second child. Now I was not as gung-ho about moving forward with the pool because of having a little one and the concern with drowning.
When I was pregnant with my first child, a coworker of mine had asked me if I had heard of Infant Swim Rescue (ISR). I had not. She showed me a video on YouTube of a young child (maybe around 1 years old) accidentally falling into a pool and miraculously getting on their back and floating. I was impressed. But at the time, we didn’t have a pool and it wasn’t even on our radar, so I dismissed the suggestion of looking into it. Fast forward 5 years later, and I had a two month old baby, and we were breaking ground on our pool. So I Googled ISR.
Learning about Infant Swim Rescue
ISR has an informative and easy to navigate website that made it simple to find a certified instructor near me. All I had to do was enter my zip code and a list of instructors populated near me.
To begin ISR, your child has to be at least six months old and sitting up on their own. Once your baby meets these two requirements, you have to register with ISR. You fill out some required information about your child, pay your $100, and print your registration form to bring for your first class.
Once you register with ISR, they send you a fifty something page PDF document that has all the information you need to ensure you are prepared and your baby is prepared for when the time comes to start lessons, and to ensure lessons are successful. For example, your child should not eat anything for two hours before lessons, a list of foods to avoid that may cause bloating, how your child needs to lay on their left side as soon as they get out of the pool for a minute or two, instructions on what to dress your child in, and what to bring to each lesson.
Classes for us began the last week of May. Classes are ideally for six weeks, everyday, Monday through Friday for about 10 minutes. It is a commitment.
Week 1: Focused on learning to float. My daughter cried every day the entire time.
Week 2: Continued to focus on learning to float. The last couple days that week, instructor started putting her in at an angle into the water and then trained her to get on her back. Again, my daughter cries entire time, every day.
Week 3: In addition to practicing floating, started barrel rolling, where the instructor puts her in and rolls her 360 degrees and she comes back to a floating position. First few times she is okay with this, surprisingly. But that doesn’t last long. And she is still crying through most of the lessons.
Week 4: We had some regression in our learnings. We were kicking too much while floating on our backs; and while that is ok, it is not ideal. After some working on just floating and getting her to not kick, we turned it around by the end of the week. The crying has tapered off as the week goes on.
Week 5: Miracle happened! She gets in the water and is calm. Floats on her back like a pro! She is able to hold her float for a full minute! She cries when she has to barrel roll, but she calms down quickly. Instructor gently puts her all the way into the water vertically and she immediately pops back up into her floating position and just calmly floats. I am extremely impressed!
Week 6: This week does not go as well as the instructor and I had hoped. Timing seemed to be right in line with when my daughter started getting her top teeth in, so every lesson in what should have been our last week, did not go as well as we wanted. She cried, swallowed water, kicked her legs, and dropped her head back during her float. By the end of the week, it was clear, we were going to need to plan on coming back the following week. This can be common with babies that are teething or just need some additional lessons.
Week 7 : Pretty much the same as week 6 unfortunately, so we knew we would be back another week.
Week 8: She got it! She cried most of the lesson still but she was floating perfectly and able to hold her float for a minute! She wasn’t swallowing water when she was turned or put face down, and most importantly, she was able to roll herself on to her back and float from whatever position she was put in the water!
Our instructor offers once a week maintenance lessons if you choose to continue bringing your child in to continue working with them and to keep what they have learned “alive”.
One More Thing
As I have shared our journey with friends, I have realized there is a misconception out there that I do want to clear up – your child is NEVER thrown into the water to see if they can float. The instructor is in the water the entire time with your child and is trained and certified! They know what to look for, how to check and monitor your child during lessons to ensure they are okay, and ease your child into the process of learning to float.
Overall, I had a very positive experience, and I am so thankful for the ISR program!
If you are interested in learning more about ISR, visit their website and speak with a certified ISR Instructor.