Frequently asked questions

What is ISR and how is it different from other swimming programs?

ISR is a product of nearly 60 years of ongoing research and development in the aquatic survival instruction for infants and children field. ISR's primary focus is to teach young children to become productive swimmers and floaters in any depth of water. Rather than learning how to blow bubbles and sing songs in the water, ISR students learn skills they would need to use in the event of a real life drowning scenario.The goal of ISR to turn our students into"aquatic problem solvers" by showing them how to deal with any situation they may get themselves into. ISR greatly increases a child's chance of surviving an aquatic accident, even when fully clothed! 


Is ISR different from a class like mommy and me?

Although many programs for young children focus on a water orientation approach using songs and games, this type of approach does not teach your child any of the skills necessary for survival. This approach teaches children that water is FUN without teaching them any meaningful skills. Remember, water will not be fun for your child if he or she is unskilled and finds himself alone in it. This type of approach may actually make a child more vulnerable to drowning as this teaches children to believe water is a safe and fun without any understanding of the skills needed for effective swimming. ISR lessons encourage water competence first, confidence second promoting a SAFE foundation for a lifelong enjoyment of the water.


If my child is under one year old, what will he/she learn?

Children between the ages of 6-12 months old are taught to roll over and maintain a back-float position in the event of an accidental fall into the water. Teaching your infant to float takes approximately 4 weeks. Private, no more than 10-minute lessons are held 5 days per week, Monday through Friday. Fully skilled infants can maintain a back-float in a bathing suit or in clothing. ISR highly recommends survival training once your infant begins to crawl and can sit unassisted.


If my child is over one year old, what will he/she learn?

Children over the age of one year are taught to swim with their face in the water, and rollback onto their back to float. After resting and breathing, they will roll over and continue to swim to the nearest point of safety. A child can perform this swim-float-swim sequence to reach safety in a survival situation. Children can also perform this sequence fully clothed. If a child does not see a way out of his predicament, he will roll over onto his back and maintain a back-float position. This buys the parent time in the event of an aquatic accident. This same sequence is most often used for fun at the pool! The confidence and self-esteem of these young swimmers is truly amazing! Teaching this technique to your 12 month to 6 year old will take approximately 6 weeks.


How do I register for ISR lessons?

Learn all about our registration process here. Be sure that you have reviewed the available times, locations, and dates to ensure they work for your family. Refer to the Contact Us page if you have any questions.


Are swimming lessons safe for infants and small children?


ISR is dedicated to safety and maintaining numerous safety protocols to promote safe lessons. Your child’s health and well-being are closely monitored on a daily basis. In addition, your child’s medical and developmental history is a mandatory part of the ISR national registration process and is held strictly confidential.

All ISR Instructors undergo an intensive and rigorous training program that far exceeds any other training program of this kind. Each ISR Instructor is also required to attend yearly conferences, and undergo an extensive recertification process. Your education in the area of aquatic safety for your entire family is an integral part of your child’s lessons, as well. You will receive resources that educate you about every aspect of swimming for infants and children.

Consider these additional points:

  • No child is ever thrown into the pool.
  • A child is never submerged for more than seven (7) seconds.
  • ISR Instructors monitor your child for temperature and muscular fatigue, as well as physical and psychological well-being.
  • Your child’s daily routines outside of ISR lessons hold valuable data for your instructor. You will receive instruction on how to communicate this information to your instructor.

By reading the resources we provide, you will understand why ISR Instructors are truly qualified to teach actual aquatic skills to infants and young children under the age of 6 years.


How do children know to hold their breath?

Breath holding skills are taught in the first lesson. Instructors shape breath control using highly effective positive reinforcement techniques. Breath control is a necessary part of safe survival swimming lessons. If any program claims children learn to hold their breath by "drinking or swallowing water", please know this is not true! It is possible to teach even a 6 month old how to hold their breath, and ISR instructors will never continue underwater submersions with a child if breath control cannot be attained. 

Vomiting is not normal during any swimming lessons!


Why should parents enroll their child in ISR?

ISR parents enroll their children into ISR lessons because they feel it is important to teach their children how to survive an aquatic accident. Children will learn to float and breathe until rescued should they find themselves alone in the water. Research shows that swimming is best learned early in life. (Newsweek and Drowning Statistics)

For a list of 'WHY ISR?' Click here.


Do parents get into the water during the lessons?

Research shows that it takes an incredible amount of concentration and objectivity to teach a baby or child how to respond to an aquatic emergency, and parents often find it too difficult to be objective to be effective teachers with their own children in the water. Also, having parents in the water can be distracting to the child and the instructor.


What if my child is afraid of the water, or will my child learn to fear the water?

There is an important difference between being fearful and being apprehensive because you are not yet skilled in a certain type of environment. ISR is not like traditional swim lessons; it is a drowning prevention program that teaches survival swimming. Your child may not happily skip to his or her ISR lesson each day at first, but that’s okay. Sometimes as a parent, you make sure your child does things for his or her safety, like receiving vaccinations or sitting in a car seat because you know they are safe and important. The same can be said for ISR. FUN can be defined as when SKILL meets CHALLENGE. Once competent in their skills, many children cannot be dragged away from the pool. They are having entirely too much FUN. When you learn about ISR, you know this is the most important level of protection you can give your child to prevent drowning. If fences, supervision, and alarms fail, your child’s skill is an additional measure of protection.


How are ISR instructors trained?

Each ISR Instructor has spent a minimum of 6 weeks in the water working beside a Master Instructor and/or Senior Master Instructor, gradually taking more and more responsibility for each child’s lesson. Each Instructor is also required to maintain certifications in First Aid and CPR for Healthcare Providers. In addition, each Instructor is required to attend the ISR National Recertification Conference each year for continuing education about every facet of ISR, as well as quality control and quality assurance.


Why can't ISR teach infants under 6 months old?

Children under the age of 6 months are not neurologically mature enough to benefit from ISR instruction.


What other benefits does the ISR lesson experience provide the child?

Every child is different; however, many parents report that once their young children have mastered learning to swim, the resulting confidence in their abilities builds a positive self-confidence that is often demonstrated in other aspects of their personalities, growth and development.


My child has had little or no experience in the water; can they still take these lessons?

Yes, whether your child has been a water lover for their whole life, or this is the first time they have been introduced to the water, ISR lessons are designed for all children.


Is it okay to use floaties, like puddle jumpers or floatation swim suits until he or she is ready to learn swim? How about a life jacket?

Flotation devices are the most dangerous thing to put on a toddler in the water for a number of reasons. 

1. It gives the child a false sense of security. Children this age are sponges, and every interaction is a learning experience. If a child learns he can be independent in the water "even once" with floaties, the child has a false sense of what being alone in the water is really like. 

2. It gives parents and caretakers a false sense of security. It is a lot easier to look away, even for a moment, if you believe your child is safe. 

3. It teaches children to assume a drowning posture in the water. Drowning does not look like what we see in the movies. In real life, drowning humans assume a vertical position in the water with either their mouth at water level or just below the surface. Their arms and legs move underwater as if trying to climb a ladder. There is no screaming. There is no splashing. Just silence as they struggle to breathe. Floatation devices that artificially hold children in vertical positions and reinforce this ladder climbing "swimming" motion is a recipe for disaster. 

Properly fitting and tested life jackets - not Puddle Jumpers or water wings - must be worn on a boat and around any source of open water when there is the potential for an accidental submersion. Even in these cases, life jackets are not a substitute for constant adult supervision or the ability to self-rescue.


How is it that babies can learn to respond to the danger that water presents when they fall in?

A baby does not need to perceive danger or be afraid to respond appropriately to being underwater. If a baby has learned to roll over and float when he needs air, he doesn’t need to perceive danger in order to respond in this manner. He needs skill, practice and confidence to calmly deal with the situation.


What further lessons will my child need?

ISR recommends that you bring your child back for refresher lessons. Frequency depends on the child’s age, growth rate, skill level, and confidence level. The goal of refreshers is to help your child adjust his/her new body size and weight to his existing skill level. Your Instructor will work with your child to help fine-tune his or her aquatic experience to assist with building efficiency, which will result in self-confidence. This is especially important if your child has not been able to practice any appropriate aquatic skills between seasons. While NO program can “drown proof” your child, ISR lessons typically have a 94% retention rate up to one year later. Refresher lessons are important because children change rapidly both cognitively and physically during the first 4-5 years of life. It is important that their aquatic skills and abilities grow with their bodies.


I hear you say your priority is survival skills. Will my child learn to actually swim?


At ISR, we believe that part of survival for a child who can walk is swimming. Children learn the swim-float-swim sequence so that they could get themselves to safety. The difference in our program is that they will learn swimming AND survival skills and how to be an aquatic problem solver.


What is the retention rate with ISR lessons? Have any children used ISR skills in a real emergency?

ISR claims a retention rate of 94-100% up to one year following lessons. Having said this, children will explore and may pick up bad habits watching other children or with interference like floating in a bathtub or playing on the steps. As your child goes through lessons, you will begin to understand, through communication with your Instructor, what activities may interfere with his/her learned Self-Rescue skills. Contacting and/or returning to your instructor in a timely manner is imperative to maintaining effective habits.

AND Yes!! 

ISR has over 1,000 documented survival stories.


Why do you have the children swim in clothes?

Because 86% of children, who fall in the water, do so fully clothed, we want our students to have experience with such a situation. If a child has experienced the sensations of being in the water in clothing prior to an emergency situation, he/she is less likely to experience panic and be able to focus on the task at hand. If you have ever jumped in the water with clothes on, then you know that there is a significant difference in weight and feel with clothes as opposed to a bathing suit.


How can a child learn anything in 10 minutes?

Although 10 minutes may seem like a very short time, each lesson is private and each student is getting the undivided attention of a highly trained instructor. Lessons, though short, require a great deal of work and concentration from our students. Given ISR students age, asking their bodies to perform this exercise for an extended duration is dangerous and can lead to over exertion in the water. Before deciding that a child can't possibly learn anything in such a short amount of time, please come and observe one or more ISR lessons! 


Why do I have to bring my child to lessons five days a week?

ISR lessons are scheduled 5 days a week because swimming is a sensori-motor skill, like crawling, walking, or riding a bike. To master sensori-motor skills, bodies must practice them regularly and consistently. Imagine if your child had only practiced crawling 1 day a week... it would have taken him months to finally master the skill! Our 5 day a week lesson structure allows ISR students to develop the muscle memory, body competence and confidence to self-rescue in an aquatic emergency. 


Why does it take my child 6-8 weeks to learn this technique?

The 6-8 weeks is an estimate that is based on the average time in which it takes most children to learn these survival skills. Every child is unique and ISR’s Self-Rescue program is specifically designed based on your child’s individual strengths and needs. It is important to realize that this is an average which means that some children will actually finish more quickly while others will need more practice. ISR is dedicated to safety and, therefore, we want to provide your child with the time and best opportunity to become proficient in his/her survival skills. We will always honor your child’s needs.


Do parents have to leave during the lessons?


You are truly the best cheerleader your child could have. Your positive support and encouragement are invaluable to creating an effective learning environment for your child.


How do the kids react during the first few lessons?

Children often fuss during the first few lessons because they are in a new environment and around new people. As your child becomes more confident in his/her ability in the water, the fussing will decrease. It is not unlike the first time you tried a new exercise class or were asked to perform a task at work that you’d never done before: the first time you try a new task it is always challenging until you get the hang of it. It is the same for your young child. Your child is learning to perform a skill that he/she’s never done before.


What if my child cries during his or her lesson?

Crying is a form of communication for children as they grow. They cry when they are hungry, bored, tired, etc. When introduced to a new person and a new experience, many children cry. This is not unusual for a child in ISR lessons. Your child will be looking to you to develop his or her attitude toward swimming and ISR lessons. Students whose parents or care takers projects positive attitudes and offer verbal praises will typically stop crying within 3 or 4 lessons or as their skill level progresses. Crying will not bother the ISR instructor or interfere with your child's ability to learn.


Will my child fear the water because of lessons?

There is an important difference between being fearful and being apprehensive because you are not yet skilled in a new environment. ISR is not like traditional swim lessons; it is a drowning prevention program that teaches survival swimming. Sometimes as a parent, you make choices for your child’s safety, like sitting in a car seat, because you know they are important. The same can be said for ISR. FUN can be defined as when SKILL meets CHALLENGE. Once competent in their skills, many children cannot be dragged away from the pool. They are having entirely too much FUN!internal://1432b3e4-95c9-43a0-b585-031b268e0901


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