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Family Focus: ISR swim lessons teach babies as young as 6 months to self-rescue in water

In Infant Self Rescue training, children learn to roll back and float and to get in a self-rescue position, depending on their age level.

Summertime is here and that means a lot of time spent at the pool. But how can you as a parent be sure your child is safe in the water? 

Spending time at the pool is fun for your kids, but can be stressful for you, especially if your kids are not strong swimmers. Watching them every second and keeping them away from the water can be a challenge.

“There are different levels, multi layers to help water safety, whether kids, pool alarms, gates, fencing. But the one element that everybody forgets is the child,” said Annette Lazenby.

If you're thinking, "But my kid isn't old enough for swimming lessons," think again. ISR - Infant Self Rescue - swim training teaches babies as young as 6 months to keep their heads above water and rescue themselves. 

“(It's) for babies 6 months to 12 months old. We teach them roll back and float, to get in a self-rescue position. For 12 months through six years old we teach them the sequence of swim, roll back and float, flip back over and swim, and they repeat that sequence to get across a body of water, a pool, a pond, a lake, whatever that is,” Lazenby said. 

At first glance the training looks alarming, until you know the reason behind it. Parents who enroll their children in ISR, or Infant Self Rescue, say it's tough to watch, but know it's an important skill that will put them at ease. 

“I share a lot of our journey on social media, so I get a lot of 'Oh my gosh, that's so scary.' It's not scary you're saving your child's life” said Ashley Ralston.

Ralston enrolled her daughter in ISR lessons because she and her family are always in water.

“We’re from, we’re actually from Arizona, so there’s a bunch of pools in Arizona, and so a lot of children are trained in this just because there’s so many drownings around that area. So when we were moving up here, I had our baby in October and in January I called Annette to get it set up this summer,” Ralston said. 

Megan Sankiewicz is another ISR parent who enrolled all of her children in ISR training.

“It's a skill I believe all children should have to learn to save themselves, because kids run really fast and we can't watch them all the time” said Sankiewicz.

RELATED: Where can my child learn to swim?

The training is customized to each child and done over a period of six weeks. When finished, each child is able to successfully turn over onto their back and keep themselves afloat. Annette says many of the children she has trained have actually used this rescue technique in real situations.

“My youngest one was a ten month old that I taught, trained, when he was seven months, and he leaned in the water to get a toy, and fell in. Mom and dad were packing up the car for vacation and they walked around the corner and there he was in a starfish, or float, we call it starfish, just waiting for Mom and Dad to pick him up” said Lazenby. 

And for that reason, children go through this training fully clothed with diapers on. Usually that adds an extra 5 pounds to the babies weight.

“Because 83% of all water emergencies happen fully-clothed so if it does happen they'll be like, Oh, I've done this before, I don't need to panic” said Lazenby.