Summer is right around the corner, which means more chances to swim! But having babies and toddlers near pools is an emergency waiting to happen, which is why I put my son in Infant Survival Swim (ISR) lessons last year and have signed him up again this year. These classes teach your kid how to survive if they accidentally or intentionally (those curious little buggers) fall into the water. Classes are taught in Palo Alto, San Jose, and Santa Cruz. The sessions are only ten minutes long, five days a week for four to six weeks.
This is a big commitment, especially for me, since I live in San Francisco, but not even a week into his ISR lessons, I was officially sold. My then 10-month-old son was floating on his back all by himself! Most of the lessons are done in a swimsuit, but to test out to the next level, he had to wear his winter clothes because you never know when they can accidentally fall into the water. In the middle of summer, he was put in his winter jacket, diaper, shoes, long sleeve shirt, etc. He was then placed on the side of the pool to mimic falling in, and within seconds my husband and I witnessed him floating on his back again, crying out for help (proud parents clapping here).
If you have ever fallen in (or, more likely, been pushed) into a pool fully clothed, you know how heavy those clothes become and how much more difficult swimming to the edge of the pool is. Since my son will be almost two years old this summer, he’ll likely learn a swim-float-swim sequence, which teaches him how to safely reach the edge of the pool.
Because of his training, gathering by the pool at my parents’ house is not a stressful situation for me. I don’t freak out, worry, or have to helicopter my son if he walks near the pool (fully clothed or not). I get to just sit back and watch him as he explores the world around him. I do want to be clear, he is NEVER left alone around the pool, but I am just more relaxed with him near water. The only reason why is because I know what he is capable of.
Normal swim classes can actually give swimmers false confidence about their abilities. This class focuses on what to do in the event of an emergency. The daily commitment to lessons for such a short period of time is nothing to me when I think about my son’s safety and my peace of mind.
I know some mamas believe this method of training is very traumatizing for children, but wouldn’t a child almost drowning also be pretty traumatizing to him? If a child falls into the pool and does not survive, is that not much more traumatizing? To each their own I guess, but if a child has a great instructor like Bonnie Steward (my son’s instructor ) they are there teaching them in a safe, loving environment that makes it clear to the child there is a purpose to what they’re doing. Just like a child gets a vaccine shot, my child learns to survive in case he falls into the water.
Be safe out there this summer, and look into ISR Swimming!
Jennifer is a regular contributor to San Francisco Moms Blog and occasionally guest posts here. She is a Student Midwife who runs Little Ones Welcome, a holistic practice where she integrates Western and Eastern perspectives on Fertility and Pediatric health. She offers services in Acupuncture, Elimination Communication, and Post-Partum Preparedness. Jenn lives in San Francisco with her Husband Oliver, Son Eli, and Dog Franklin. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, walking, gardening, or just listening to the ocean waves. Jenn especially loves traveling, enjoying a good meal, and just chillin’ with her boys ! View all her posts here.