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Our Experience with the ISR Survival Swim Program

In recent years, the ISR (Infant Swimming Resource) Survival Swim program has gained significant attention and acclaim for its unique approach to water safety education. This revolutionary program aims to equip infants and young children with crucial aquatic survival skills, providing them with the ability to navigate water safely and confidently. This Summer, my family had the opportunity to participate in the ISR Survival Swim program with our fourteen month old and discover how it is making a positive impact on drowning prevention and child safety.

Water Safety First

Drowning remains one of the leading causes of accidental death among young children worldwide. Traditional swimming lessons often focus on building stroke technique and endurance, leaving crucial water survival skills overlooked. The ISR Survival Swim program, however, addresses this gap by prioritizing water safety first and foremost.

What sets ISR apart is its emphasis on teaching infants and children as young as six months old how to roll over and float independently, allowing them to breathe and stay afloat until help arrives. This vital skill dramatically increases a child's chances of survival in case of an accidental fall into water.

Methodology and Training

ISR's approach to teaching aquatic survival skills involves intensive one-on-one lessons conducted by highly trained instructors. Our instructor this Summer was Jill Phillips. Jill is a lifelong swimmer, competing at the collegiate level and  coaching her entire adult life. Her sweet but incredibly structured coaching style draws little one's in as she gains their trust almost instantly. She along with the other instructors use specialized techniques to gradually introduce children to the water and build their confidence while focusing on essential self-rescue maneuvers. 

The program is designed to be non-traumatic, promoting a positive and nurturing learning environment. As children become more comfortable in the water, they learn a series of reflexive responses that become instinctual, enabling them to handle unexpected water-related situations with composure and safety.

The first couple of weeks were pretty intense for me to watch. Our daughter had zero water experience besides the bath. It wasn't until about the fourth week that she started to enjoy the lessons. She was really proud of her ability and often looked for applause from the peanut gallery when she started to flip on her back and float.  

Parental Involvement

Parents play a crucial role in the success of the ISR Survival Swim program. From understanding the importance of water safety to actively participating in lessons, parents are encouraged to be present and engaged throughout the learning process.

Jill worked closely with us, explaining the techniques and practices used during lessons. This involvement helped us reinforce the skills taught during lessons and we continuously work to instill water safety awareness in our daughter's daily life, both in and around the water. You can catch us in the pool each weekend reminding her to "practice your float like Mrs. Jill taught you."

Confidence and Independence

Apart from being a lifesaving skill, the ISR Survival Swim Program fosters a sense of confidence and independence in young children. As they master their abilities in the water, children grow more self-assured, which can have a positive impact on their overall development.

Through this program, children learn to respect water, understand potential risks, and make safer choices when near bodies of water. This newfound confidence empowers children and gives parents peace of mind, knowing their child is better equipped to handle water-related challenges. I can attest to the peace of mind gained. Although, we are still very cautious around the pool and plan to participate in lessons again next year, my husband and I both feel like a baseline of safety was established with our little girl and for that we are very grateful. 

To further reinforce the skills our daughter learned, we also introduced her to the wonderful book Violet Finds Her Float written by ISR certified swim coach, Kristine McCarren


In the story you follow Violet as she learns about water safety in a colorful, beautifully illustrated adventure. Violet is eager to jump in the pool for some summer fun, but first she needs to learn that swimming takes practice and the water deserves respect. Violet and her magical friends learn important lessons about water safety and parents learn about the layers of protection you can put in place to keep your child safe from a drowning accident.

The ISR Survival Swim program has proven to be a transformative approach to water safety education. By teaching young children vital aquatic survival skills, ISR is saving lives and preventing tragic accidents. Not only does it provide children with the ability to self-rescue in emergency situations, but it also instills confidence and respect for water, creating a safer and more enjoyable experience for everyone.

In my opinion, investing in a child's water safety education through the ISR Survival Swim program is an investment in their future, paving the way for a lifetime of water confidence and security. With this groundbreaking approach, we move closer to a world where every child can enjoy the water safely, making drowning accidents a thing of the past. You can learn more about ISR by visiting their website. Lessons with Jill Phillips open up on a rolling basis. You can learn more about her availability by clicking here.  See below for a video of our Lucy finding her float! 

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