Infant Swimming Resource Self Rescue vs. Traditional Swimming Lessons


Many of us have seen the Infant Swimming Resource viral video of the baby who walks out of the house, falls into the pool, and floats on their back serenely, while they wait for an adult to come and help them. It has over 10 million views on YouTube and has spawned a market for parents looking to replicate Infant survival rescue with their own infants and toddlers.

A lot of parents see ISR, think it’s great and that it will keep their child safe around the water. However, before racing off to sign your infants and toddlers up for the ISR Self Rescue, it’s important to be fully informed, so that you can make the right decision about what type of swim lesson is best for your child. Whether you decide Infant Swimming Resource Self Rescue is the way to go, or a traditional Learn to Swim program, do the research and be aware of all aspects of each swim lesson approach.

In this article, we’ll explain the difference between Infant Swimming Resource Self Rescue Lessons and Traditional Learn to Swim Lessons. We’ll give you a breakdown of the pros and cons of each swim lesson method, so that you can make an informed decision and choose a type of swim lesson that is best for your infant or toddler.

What is ISR (Infant Swimming Resource)?
  • One-on-one 10 minute Infant survival rescue swim lessons (Monday to Friday) are conducted everyday for a minimum of 4-6 weeks.

  • The instructor physically manipulates the child in the same repetitive motions in order to simulate what to do if they fall into water without a parent or guardian present.

  • These specific ISR “Self-Rescue” sequences consistently push the infant out of their comfort zone with the aim to force them to instinctively learn how to float on their backs.

  • Children are taught to repeat the Infant Swimming Resource sequence: Swim-float-swim, until they have reached a safe spot.

FOCUS: Child is able to get themselves back to safety or float until help arrives in the accidental case of falling into water, without the help of an instructor or guardian from an early age.

What are Traditional Swim Lessons?
  • Daily or weekly 30-45 minute swim lessons, typically over a 6-9 week period, once or twice a week. Can be more based on requests.

  • Unlike Infant survival rescue, lesson teaches swim skills using non aggressive methods such as learning how to float, movement skills in water, submersion, holding breath, and kicking legs.

  • Focuses on building a foundation for swimming with proper technique & the child becoming comfortable in the water.

  • Includes elements of fun while still providing reasonable challenges for the child.

  • Likely have a parent or guardian in the water participating with the child during the swim lesson if they are under the age of 3.

  • Teaches swim techniques and water skills that will result in knowing how to swim for leisure and foundation for other water sports.

FOCUS: Child learns to control their breathing pattern above and below water, and learns water movement skills that translate into effective swim technique. Younger swimmers start with assistance of instructor with all skills, and eventually move to doing the skills on their own.

So what is the best approach? In order to understand the differences completely, here is a visual breakdown of what typical ISR Self Rescue and Traditional Swimming lessons might look like by age:

Breakdown & Comparison: Infant Swimming Resource vs. Traditonal Swim Lessons

ISR Self RescueTraditional

  • Set of ISR Lessons: 30-40 lessons (6-8 weeks, 5 times a week)

  • Length of Infant survival rescue lesson: 10 min

  • Cost per ISR lesson: ~$20/10min

  • Cost of ISR lesson per week: approx $100

  • Cost of Infant survival rescue lesson per session: Approx $600-$700

  • Set of Lessons: 8-12 lessons, 1-2 times a week, but can be more

  • Length of lesson: 30 min

  • Cost per lesson: $10 to $30+/30min

  • Averaging anywhere from $20/hour for group lessons, to $60+/hour for private lessons

6 months – 15 months

  • Dunking under the water.

  • Floating on the back with intermittent assistance.

  • Learning to flip from a front float to a back float.

  • Infant Swimming Resource method is forced and often times difficult to watch by parents as it causes a lot of stress and crying for the child.

  • Learning foundational skills that will help learn the final ISR sequence once child is older.

  • Infant survival rescue lesson takes place with instructor only.

How long will it take for my child to learn the ISR skills at this age?

  • Approx 6 weeks

What skills will my child gain by the conclusion of Infant survival rescue classes?

  • Flip from front to back and wait for help.

  • Ability to dunk under water.

  • Gain confidence in the water.

  • Getting comfortable in the water, and easing into awareness of the pool surroundings.

  • Getting water on the face and head.

  • Some dunking under water.

  • Learning foundational skills for development of future strokes, like front/back floats, kicking legs, and blowing bubbles.

  • Unlike Infant survival rescue, all performed with assistance from parent or instructor.

  • Helping the child learn to complete a skill within their own comfort level, unlike ISR

  • With instructor only or with a parent/guardian in the water assisting the child.

How long will it take for my child to learn the skills at this age?

  • 8-12 lessons

What skills will my child gain by the conclusion of these classes?

  • Increased level of comfort in the water.

  • front/back floats, kicking legs, and blowing bubbles all with assistance.

15 months – 6 years

  • Dunking under the water.

  • Full Infant Swimming Resource sequence is taught: “Swim-float-swim”: Swimming until they need air, rotating onto the back to float, then rolling back over to continue swimming.

  • ISR method is forced and often times difficult to watch by parents as it causes a lot of stress and crying for the child.

  • Infant survival rescue method can include child being fully clothed to simulate accidental fall into water.

  • ISR lesson takes place with instructor only.

How long will it take for my child to learn the Infant survival rescue skills at this age?

  • 6-8 weeks

What skills will my child gain by the conclusion of Infant survival rescue classes?

  • Back floats

  • Swim-Float-Swim Sequence

  • Swim-Float-Swim Sequence while wearing clothing.

  • Getting comfortable in the water.

  • Blowing bubbles, putting face under water and picking items up from waist deep water.

  • Learning foundational skills for development of future strokes, like front/back floats, kicking legs, front/back glides, and blowing bubbles, unlike Infant survival rescue

  • Some basic stroke technique – front crawl, back crawl, and breaststroke.

  • Performed with and without assistance from instructor.

  • Lesson takes place with instructor only.

How long will it take for my child to learn the skills at this age?

  • 8-12 lessons

What skills will my child gain by the conclusion of these classes?

  • Increased level of comfort in the water.

  • front/back floats, kicking legs, front/back glides, jumping into deep water & returning to the wall, basic stroke development, and blowing bubbles without instructor assistance.

Pros and Cons: Infant Swimming Resource vs. Traditional Swim Lessons

Infant Swimming Resource Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Your infant or toddler might be able to float on their back or get to the closest wall.

  • The Infant Swimming Resource lessons are always one-on-one.

  • Option for Infant survival rescue lessons to be taught with child fully clothed to simulate unplanned fall into the water.

  • ISR method gives peace of mind for a parent knowing that an added layer protection is added to their child’s safety around bodies of water.

  • 10 minute Infant survival rescue lesson – quick time frame so your child doesn’t get exhausted.

Cons

  • Infant survival rescue lessons can give false sense of security from parent/child in and around water.

  • Some parents may unintentionally be less vigilant when they believe their child can do the Infant Swimming Resource sequence.

  • With ISR lessons, child might think they know how to swim and jump into water that they can’t handle.

  • Lakes, busy pools, rough water.

  • Infant Swimming Resource lessons may cause your child to develop a fear or dislike of the water due to the repetitive discomfort of being dunked.

  • ISR Instructors report having to reintroduce children to the water at older ages while dealing with phobia of submersion.

  • High amount of Infant Swimming Resource lessons required (often upwards of 30 for one session) – often times need 2-3 sessions and maintenance lessons in between.

  • Infant survival rescue is not your typical swim lesson – it does not teach proper stroke technique and developmental skills in water. This doesn’t translate over into effective swimming skills and many students need to be retrained or may face challenges when older and taking part in competitive swim environments like swim teams.

  • 10 min ISR lessons Monday to Friday for 6-8 weeks is a difficult time commitment.

Traditional Swim Lessons Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Teaches your child to love the water rather than be afraid of it. Forced dunking and repetitive motions are not forced if child is scared and unwilling, unlike ISR.

  • Lessons include water safety and accident prevention portion.

  • Builds physical strength through different strokes and skills and therefore the confidence in the ability to swim.

  • Various swim skills are progressively taught and developed like controlled breathing and exhaling under water, floats, glides, kicking, and more, which is not seen in Infant survival rescue lessons.

  • Bad swim habits are avoided from the get-go, ensuring that child learns proper technique.

  • Levels allow for steady growth and visible progress of child’s skills.

Cons

  • It might seem like the instructor does not create opportunities for your child to gain independence in water right off the bat, since they assist with most skills in the beginning.

  • Lessons are not usually taught wearing regular clothing to simulate an unplanned fall into water, like Infant Swimming Resource lessons

  • Lesson times are flexible but 30 minutes might still be too long for a really small child.

  • Levels might be different at multiple providers and might confuse parents looking to sign up.

  • If taking group lessons, all children may not be at the same level at the same time. Sometimes those who are struggling might not get the attention or time needed from an instructor who has to accommodate all students.

So What Type Of Swim Lessons Should You Choose?

Unlike Infant survival rescue lessons, traditional swim lessons hold water safety awareness and the development of a love for swimming to the highest degree. A progressive approach ensures that good swim skill habits are developed, and children learn to swim at a comfortable pace. This makes traditional lessons, both private swim lessons and groups swim lessons, more appealing to parents whose main objective is to teach their children how to swim with proper swim strokes and efficiency.

Overall, children can be swimming without assistance already at the age of 2 to 4, always with parental supervision of course.

On the other hand, Infant Swimming Resource Self Rescue focuses on teaching children how to react in the event that they fall into the water while unsupervised. ISR aims to to teach children as young as 6 months how to save themselves by floating on their backs until help arrives. Toddlers above the age of 1 are taught in Infant Swimming Resource lessons a set sequence of skills; Swim – Float – Swim, which results in them being able to bring themselves to the closest point of safety after falling into the water from the side of the pool.

Although the ISR water skills are not considered traditional by swim instruction standard, they may provide a self saving ability in the slight chance that they ever fall into water unsupervised.

Whether one chooses to sign their child up in ISR Self Rescue Lessons or in a Traditional Learn to Swim Lesson approach, the choice should always be a completely informed one!

If you’re still unsure, going the traditional swim lesson route is tried and true, and will provide a swim lesson experience that fosters confidence and a positive experience in the water. We hope this article has given you more insight into both sides of the swim lesson debate.

Regardless of which method you choose, it’s important to always ensure a parent or guardian is there to actively supervise any aquatic activities. Pool gates, alarms, covers, locks, and hiring a lifeguard at your next pool party, are all a great way to add yet another layer of safety!

#isr #toddlerswimlesson #learntoswim

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