Infant Swimming Resource
March 8, 2013 9:11 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have experience with Infant Swimming Resource (ISR)? I'm considering it for my 9 month old. Were the first few lessons as terrible as I've heard? Is the end result as consistently wonderful as claimed? Is it worth the price?
posted by groar to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We did something similar for our kids. It was called Australian baby swimming in Las Vegas (or something like that). The youngest kid I sent there was 6 mos. It is pretty hairy the first lesson or 2. The kids hated it. However we had a pool at the time and after one of them fell in when the gate was left open I didn't take any chances. Basically it was a 15 min lesson. The instructor (mostly older women in Vegas) swoops the kid in and out of the water for the beginning. It teaches the baby to hold his breathe. After that they let go of your kid for a few seconds and let them swim up. I guess all babies have some innate ability. It lasted 2 weeks and I did for the few years we lived there and all 4 could swim pretty well under water. Now they will tell you that they remembered it sucked but they are water kids through and through. I think this is the same as what you are referring to.
posted by lasamana at 9:21 AM on March 8, 2013

My cousin did it with her little babies. It sucked for a lesson or two, but the kids survived, and it helped them all become thoroughly comfortable and familiar with the water. I plan on doing something similar when we have kids.
posted by barnone at 9:35 AM on March 8, 2013

My daughter did something completely different. She spent a lot of time in the pool with me or her au pair holding her and not forcing her to do anything she didn't want. No dunking, no letting go, nothing unpleasant. As she got older, she started taking traditional lessons, and again it was with a gentle program that never forced anything, held in a warm pool, taught by loving people. We live on a lake, and she is an incredibly proficient swimmer now, at age nine, and is in the water all summer long.

My own experience as a child was lessons in a miserably cold, echoey pool, with a drill sergeant for a teacher, lots of forced misery, being scared, etc. I too am a very proficient swimmer, and I love swimming. I spend all summer in the lake, and swim in pools whenever I get the chance.

My husband had very few lessons (I don't know if they were fun or miserable, just rare) and he is almost never in the water and shows zero interest in any of the water-based sports I like (snorkeling, scuba). I can't even get him in a warm pool.

My takeaway is that lots of swimming time makes you a good swimmer. As far as what kind of lesson works, I personally would choose the fun, gentle kind because that means that you as a parent don't have to deal with an unhappy child, and the child isn't unhappy. If both methods work, why make a kid miserable?

That said, there isn't a program in the world I'd trust to make an infant a swimmer. Even strong swimmers can drown (a dear friend of mine lost her husband, a competitive swimmer, when his kayak capsized only 200 yards from shore) and being particularly attentive to children is essential. My daughter always wears her PFD when she's on her kayak or even playing with a group of friends, because I don't want her to be rough-housing and get pulled under or kicked or something.
posted by Capri at 9:48 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]

If both methods work, why make a kid miserable?

Because ISR is taught to children who are too young to swim.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:59 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

The point is not how to teach young children how to swim. It's to teach young babies how to float on their backs in the unexpected event they fall into water. It's a drowning prevention program, not "tough love forced dunking in cold pool instead of bobbing in the lake with mom." Capri is comparing bobbing apples to sinking potatoes.

Most pools are quite warm for these programs nowadays.

Especially recommended if you're frequently around water or if the parent is particularly afraid of the water.
posted by barnone at 10:24 AM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

ISR isn't swimming, it's water survival for pre-swimmers. Yes the first few lessons suck, but they suck less than drowning would for your kid, or burying your infant would for you. I understand it's unbearable to think about such a thing and that the normal defence is "that would never happen to my child because $reason" but we've had two drowning deaths among our friends and family, one of them in such a freakish set of circumstances the family had a better chance of winning the lottery than of losing their kid this way. It does happen, even to really dedicated parents and caretakers and really cautious children.

Here's a good way to think about it: your kid may hate his or her car seat and scream, but you strap your child in anyway because it's safer. Surprise: drowning kills more infants than car accidents. ISR is a good, good thing.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:31 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

"The AAP does not recommend formal water safety programs for children younger than 1 year of age. The water-survival skills programs for infants may make compelling videos for the Internet, but no scientific study has yet demonstrated these classes are effective, the policy states."

From AAP

I had come to say that they don't advise swimming under four, but found this new linked advice suggesting that lessons can be safe for one to four year olds.
posted by SandiBeech at 10:36 AM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

Keep in mind that drowning is not advised at any age. We'll be doing ISR with our newborn once he's about 6months+. I don't care if there are great results, I consider it due-diligence when there's going to be water nearby.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:46 AM on March 8, 2013

We went with traditional swimming lessons when she was 1.5 - the local healthclub had a program for toddlers my Mom took my daughter to every Friday. She paddles around pretty good.

I'd be leery of "special" programs like this - seems like there's some snake-oil involved.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:51 AM on March 8, 2013

I used to teach parent and child aquatics, although I have no experience with ISR. 6-12 months is a fine starting age, although the classes I taught would have both the parent and the child in the shallow end together. At that age, the activities should very much be centered around getting used to being in the water, and the progressions should really go at the child's pace. These progressions will involve things like play in the water while being held by the parent, moving to things like partial immersion with parent, gently splashing water on the face, blowing bubbles, supporting the child in the water away from the parent's body, and very gradually moving towards full immersion with parent, and then floating, breath control, etc.

Again, these progressions should be very much child-dictated. The main goal is getting the child comfortable in the water, and building a base of experience for later aquatic progressions.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:53 AM on March 8, 2013

Others have handled the child-safety element. I will say we did swimming lessons for our eldest when she was around two, and it was worth every penny for the long, deep, consistent post-swim naps.
posted by Andrhia at 12:30 PM on March 8, 2013

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