Infant Swimming Resource: A REVIEW

Posted by on May 15, 2013 in Move Live Learn Blog, Product Reviews | No Comments

Did you know that  National Water Safety Day is this week?  Well, you do now! I wanted to share this post with you during this week. I’ve been so excited to spread the word about this incredible program – Infant Swimming Resource (ISR).

I am a huge advocate for babies (yes, babies) and children knowing how to float and swim. Why?

1. If they can float / swim they can save themselves from drowning in many instances. No, they are not drown proof, but they do have skills that can help them in many situations that if they did not have the skills they would die.  Why am I so paranoid? The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2006) reported that 3,308 unintentional drownings in the US occurred in 2004-  an average of 9 people per day (CDC 2006). Many of these cases can be prevented with floating and swimming skills.

So, yes, I view it as a life skill of the ultimate kind –  drowning prevention.

But, you know me…always promoting physical activity.  So, here’s another reason.

2. To me (and, hopefully many others) swimming is a fundamental movement skill.  If you can swim, you will have the foundation and confidence to enjoy swimming for: social and fitness reasons, triathlon, water polo, swim team, etc. Ah-ha – more prevention. This type of prevention – physical activity (together with healthy nutrition, healthy relationships, etc.) can help people fight disease.

Alas, I introduce to you:

Infant Swimming Resource

Dr. Harvey Barnett founded ISR after coming across a horrific drowning scene.  It changed his life – thus, he committed his life to helping families avoid such tragedy. I believe in ISR (for babies aged 6 months to 3 years) very much and wanted to share this incredible resource for two reasons.

1. I suspect any parent who can afford this program (time, money, schedule) may wish to consider it. When I saw “can afford it”, keep in mind this is relative. Alas, my family room is still “rug less” and “curtain less” (we moved in a year ago in June). Yet, I can afford these lessons.  See? Relative.

2. I think that there is an opportunity for many amazing parents, educators, and other overall awesome adults who would like to consider becoming an ISR instructor. More towns and more cities could benefit from this program. Think about it –  more babies could be saved from drowning. Every community – no matter how big or small – would benefit from bringing ISR to its members.

Let me be clear.  ISR does not make babies and children “drown proof”.  However, it does teach them many skills that certainly increase their chances of removing themselves from a situation that could lead to a potential drowning.

So….let’s get this party started.

What is ISR?

For details on the program, you can visit the official website of ISR. ISR is a layered approach to child safety around water (e.g., pool alarms, fences, etc.) and this includes physical skills taught by its over 400 trained instructors.

What will my child learn in ISR?

The website will share video of specific skills (e.g., floating, roll backs, swim-float-swim technique) that your child – depending on her/his age – will learn. The website is easy to navigate and very informative.

What will I have to do (as the parent)?

* You will have to record everything your child eats (yes, each day) and when he/she soils/wets a diaper (yes, each day) on the child’s BUDS sheet. It’s a pain – I’m not going to lie to you.  But, it’s awesome they have you do this.  In completing the BUDS sheet, instructors are able to monitor the child and make sure that enough time as elapsed between the last meal, etc. They look for signs in your child and make decisions on the lesson, etc. accordingly.

Childcare givers must complete the BUDS form each day and show it to the ISR instructor PRIOR to him/her swimming the child.

* You will have to bring three clean towels each day to lessons.

3 clean towels / day. 1 to serve as a protective layer on pool deck. 1 for child to lie on – post swim. 1 to cover the child while s/he lies on side after the lesson.

* You will have to bring your child for 10 minute lessons each day during the work week (Monday-Friday).  Yes. Only 10 minutes.

* You will pay $20 / 10 minute lesson X 5 lessons / week.  Don’t like math? That’s $100 / week / child. The program can last between 4-8 weeks (but, don’t quote me on this one) and will depend on how fast your child progresses, if your child misses time due to illness / vacation travel, etc.

* You will have to sit on the side of the pool and hand the instructor the BUDS sheet. The instructor will place pick up your child from the towel on pool deck. You will sit there as your child cries for you and you may even cry yourself because your child is upset (think: a child very annoyed about wearing a seat belt).

* You will feel like an awesome parent the day that your child rolls over and floats with clothing on and shoes tied together on her/his last day of the program.

My youngest, 19 months old, swimming about to demonstrate her roll to the float position.

* You have to be on time for your 10 minute lesson so you don’t put instructors in an awkward position and hinder the experience of others. Remember, you’re paying $20 / lesson – you don’t want to miss out!

Why the program is TOTALLY worth the coin…

* This program is systematic and proven to work.

* This program is not taught by people who don’t really know what they are doing. The instructors are well prepared to work with children.  Both of the instructors we went to, adored children. They were in it for the right reasons. It’s not cheap to become certified – they are extremely passionate and this is their profession. They are competent, patient, and teach your baby skills that leave you watching in amazement.  If you don’t believe me, google ISR and then click on images…..see…I told you so.

My children have had two instructors. We had to switch due to scheduling reasons.  I’d love for you to meet each of them!

My 3 year old after a “refresher” class (a class she attends every few weeks to sharpen her skills) with her wonderful instructor, Coach Jackie.

My 17 month old after a lesson with Coach Chuck. There are other pictures better of my baby, but this was the best of Coach Chuck. As you can see, I don’t mess with Jessie “the body” Ventura – so, I chose to put his flattering photo in the blog.

 Parting thoughts from the incredible ISR instructors who have taught my children to swim/float/swim — Coach Chuck & Coach Jackie

Why did you choose to become an ISR instructor?

Chuck: “My motivation to become an instructor was because I have always loved interacting with babies and toddlers. Helping a baby learn the skills to save them self in the water appeared to be something I would be good at and enjoy.”

Jackie: “I first learned about ISR while life guarding in college and being a learn to swim instructor and life guard. I always loved the water. After going back and forth for years on what I wanted to do with my life I decided my true calling was the ISR program itself. I was never fully committed to a certain major in college, and knew that I loved working the small children and loved being around the water so what better then teaching Infant Swimming lessons.”

Any success stories?

Chuck: “I have had 7 children save themselves from certain drowning by using the skills I taught them. Each time I got the call from their parents telling me what their baby had done I felt like a hero. Even though I have swam in excess of 6,000 children seeing a baby/toddler roll back and float independently for the first time still does and probably always will give me goose bumps. Enrichingthe lives of our future generation by nurturing their ability to enjoy the water is also a very rewarding feeling for me.”

Jackie: “I had one already and I just began teaching lessons this past fall! It meant the world to me when the mom called to tell me that ISR had saved her baby.”

Any tips for parents regarding baby / child water safety?

Chuck: “NEVER use ANY floatation devices. When you are in the water always keep babies on your hip and do not get their navel wet. Getting a baby horizontal will cause bad habits, improper head orientation and inefficient swimming posture. At bath time when you rinse your child’s head try not to tip their head back. Just dump the water container over their head. Remember virtually everything you do with your baby in the water teaches them something. Try to determine if what they are learning is going to be helpful when they are in lessons.”

Jackie: “ISR is a layered approach.  The skills I teach are critical. Supervision, proper fencing, alarms, and other precautions are also critical. All layers must be applied and that’s what ISR teaches and promotes.”


Does this look like a career for you? Does this look like something that you would like to see in your community?  Search for an instructor near you (through the ISR website) to enroll your child today or to learn how you can become an ISR swim instructor.

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