Our Experience with ISR
A few months ago, I called Wichita Swim Club (where I took lessons as a kid!), and got the run down on ISR and weekly swimming lessons. I was pretty torn between the two options, so I took to Insta Stories for advice, and I got more responses than I’ve ever had. Everyone was raving about ISR, and insisted we absolutely had to do it. Side note: Thank you THANK YOU to any of you who encouraged us to just go for it. It was without a doubt one of the best things we’ve invested in so far for B.
Once I learned exactly what ISR was, I was determined to start right away. We recently moved to a house with a pool, and the reality of summertime getting closer was keeping me up at night. B needed better water skills before we opened our pool. However that determination didn’t erase my own fears and misconceptions about ISR, and I’ve had really similar questions (many based out of the same concerns I had) over Instagram. Let’s talk about it!
The three main misconceptions I had going into ISR that were blown (literally) out of the water were: That it would be traumatic, impersonal, and inconvenient. Instead, I had a front-row seat to B gaining self-confidence as she tried, failed, tried again, and persevered. Regardless of my fears going into it, I knew as a family with a pool in the backyard, this had to be a priority for us before summertime. I recommend it to everyone we talk to, and I think it’s important to address the reservations many people have about ISR.
Misconception #1: Traumatic
Google “ISR,” click over to the news tab, and you’ll see a mix of media headlines - some of them make ISR out to be a very intense and scary thing. I’ll admit, I was warned by many moms going into ISR that it would be hard for the first week or so, but it was definitely not traumatic. In fact, it’s made B totally willing to get her face wet in the bath and shower, something we struggled with every time I washed her hair. Once she gained more confidence with the swimming portion of ISR, she was much happier during lessons. I felt a lot better when I talked to other moms with kids in regular swimming lessons who assured me their kids cried too. Anything new is intimidating for young kids, but this newness gave B the opportunity to persevere and grow. I can tell you with 100% certainty that B loves the water more now than before! Her confidence in the water is wonderful - It’s the cherry on top of her learning these skills.
Misconception #2: Impersonal
I had this vision in my head of literally tossing B to the instructor as another mom grabbed her kid out of the water simultaneously. ISR sessions are ten minutes long, 5 days a week, and they’re usually stacked so each lesson is right after another. They’re efficient and quick, but definitely not impersonal. B loves her teacher, and you tell there’s a high level of trust there. I was amazed at how our teacher remembered B’s little quirks, and tailored each lesson to B’s needs. It’s telling to me that B loves to point her teacher out in the staff picture on the bulletin board - she’s a big fan. As I was going back and reading more about ISR (mainly to write this blog post) I realized that each lesson is truly customized to your child’s needs, which makes a ton of sense. By nature, it’s the polar opposite of impersonal, and I can see now why our teacher (Emily at Wichita Swim Club if you’re local!) was so highly recommended.
Misconception #3: Inconvenient
I’ll admit, it’s daunting - Six weeks in a row of ten minutes a day every day. I would tell people that and their reaction was “Seriously?!” I’ll be honest with you though - we loved it. It was an excuse to leave the house every day, and while it may seem silly to get a baby/toddler out just for ten minutes in the pool, it’s actually the perfect amount of time. First of all, B’s attention span really only allows for 10 minutes anyways. On the harder weeks, you’ll be grateful it’s a quick lesson. It’s also a TON of work for their little bodies, unlike a lot of traditional swimming lessons. They’re in the water swimming through the entire lesson, as opposed to group lessons where kids swap out and wait their turn. And when you factor the time in of changing into a swim diaper in the locker room (5-10 minutes), the actual lesson (10 minutes), and changing back into dry clothes (10 minutes) it’s about a 30 minute ordeal anyways. We had our lessons scheduled mid-morning so B had enough time to eat breakfast 2 hours before the lesson, and we’d usually have a playdate or run errands afterwards. It dictated our routine for sure, but we worked around it because it was the #1 priority for those 6 weeks. Plus, naps are much better when you’ve got a toddler swimming every morning!
What B Learned
The video I posted was edited with footage taken after 6 weeks of lessons, and as you can see, B is a rockstar in the water. The main goal for ISR is that children learn a sequence of swimming to safety and rotating on their backs to float and get air. ISR equips them with the skills they need to save themselves if they end up in the water alone (hence the summer and winter clothing you’ll see in the video). We plan to continue going once a week until our pool’s open to maintain B’s skills. During the summer, we’ll practice her ISR training each time we get in the pool, and she’ll be able to swim sans floaties with close adult supervision.
What About My Kiddo?
If you’ve made it this far, and now you’re wondering if you too should start ISR lessons, my answer is a resounding “Yes!” ISR’s mission is “Not One More Child Drowns” which is incredibly sobering when you realize that drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children under 4 in the U.S. I’ve talked to other moms that experienced near-drowning incidents, and that was their “Why.” Other people also own pools, or are in close-proximity to pools (pools of grandparents’ and close family members) and their “Why’s” also made a lot of sense to me. In reality, young kids are around water all the time. I’d never thought about how often we were around dangerous water situations until we bought a home with a pool, but I can easily list off 3-4 pool/lake locations we frequent that would put B at risk in addition to our own backyard pool. ISR doesn’t replace other important ways of keeping kids safe around water, but it does buy them a little extra time in case of an emergency. I personally feel a little better knowing she’s got these skills going forward, and am grateful that we were so strongly encouraged to just go for it.
If you’re local to Wichita, we loved Emily on the east side at Wichita Swim Club, and likewise my sister-in-law absolutely loved her daughter’s instructor Tara on the west side of Wichita. You can search to find an ISR instructor near you at ISR’s official website here: https://www.infantswim.com/