Frequently Asked Questions


Why are lessons 5 days per week and for only 10 minutes?

The reason for this is multifaceted. First, repetition and consistency are crucial elements of learning for young children. Research shows that short, more frequent lessons result in higher retention. Second, most children have fairly short attention spans and will not be able to focus on the task for longer and we want to take advantage of the best time for learning. A third reason is that, though the pool temperature is maintained at 78-88 degrees, the temperature is still lower than your child's body temperature. Lessons are work and therefore your child will also be losing body heat. Instructors check students regularly for temperature fatigue since this is an indicator of physical fatigue.  All lessons are one-on-one with the Instructor and we pack a lot in our short time together.  



How long will it take for my child to learn this?

The 3-4 week estimate for the infant Rollback-to-Float class and the 4-6 weeks for the Swim-Float-Swim class 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.


Why does my child need to know how to float?

Aquatic Self-Reliance is the ability to move through the water independently while breathing effortlessly. Many programs attempt to teach children to swim and lift his/her head to breathe. Toddlers do not possess the upper body strength to maintain this head-up posture long enough to get an effective breath. Lifting the head for a breath expends great amounts of energy to attain air and children have limited sustainable energy. The head lift technique will soon fatigue a child. Alternatively, the rollback to a float to breathe is effortless, offering unlimited rest and air while in the water, thus equipping the child with aquatic self-reliance skills to potentially save himself in an emergency situation and to SAFELY enjoy the water. This rotary swimming technique transitions nicely into proper side-breathing postures when transitioning to formal strokes.


What are the benefits of teaching a child to swim at an early age?


Mastering swimming at a young age can benefit a child in many areas throughout life. Perhaps the most important reason to teach your child to swim along with aquatic survival skills early in life is to give them the ability to survive in the water. Surrounded by swimming pools, beaches, rivers and lakes, combined with a natural attraction to water, it is just a matter of time before swimming skills are put to the test. 

Swimming is considered the ideal activity for developing muscular and skeletal growth by many physicians and pediatricians. Swimming is unique in that it uses all the body’s major muscle groups, promoting complete development. It enhances flexibility and builds strength. Swimming develops coordination by requiring combinations of complex movements of all parts of the body, which enhances muscle function, grace and fluidity of movement.


Additional data comes from research at the German Sports College in Cologne. These studies demonstrate that swim lessons for babies and toddlers don’t just save lives but they can accelerate their development physically, intellectually and emotionally. As compared with a control group which did not take year-round lessons, the children who swam consistently from infancy were significantly stronger and more coordinated. The children also scored higher for intelligence and problem-solving, which carried over into excellence in academic achievement. Emotionally, they were found to be more self-disciplined with greater self-control and an increased desire to succeed. They rated higher in self-esteem and were more independent and comfortable in social situations than the control groups.



What is the retention rate with ISR lessons?

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.



How can you teach babies and young children to swim?

ISR instructors teach infants to swim by honoring each child's individual strengths and experiences. They understand the fundamentals of the behavioral sciences, child development and of sensori-motor learning as it relates to the acquisition of aquatic survival skills; they use this education to guide each child through the sequence of learning to swim and float.


Can you really teach a child who is not verbal how to swim?

Yes. Consider that children learn to sit, crawl and walk before they learn to speak. Because we teach through sensori-motor learning, verbal skills are not required for a child to acquire Self-Rescue skills. We are able to communicate with our students through touch and positive reinforcement while striving to set our students up for success every step of the way.


How do you teach them to hold their breath?

Breath holding skills are taught in the first lesson. We shape breath control using highly effective positive reinforcement techniques. We continue to reinforce these breath-holding techniques throughout every lesson.


How is it that babies can learn to respond to the danger of water 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.



Why don’t parents participate in the water during the lessons?

It takes incredible concentration and objectivity to teach the baby how to respond to an aquatic emergency and our research shows that parents often find it too difficult to be objective to be effective teachers with their own children in the water. Once your child is skilled, most instructors will invite the parent to participate in the last few days of lessons to show you how to play and interact with your child in the water to maintain skills. 



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, learning something new 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.


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.



Will my child need additional lessons?

Based on our research, we know that refresher lessons are important because children change so much both cognitively and physically during the first 4-5 years of life. It is important that their water survival skills grow with their bodies. Frequency depends on the child's age, growth rate, skill level and confidence level. The goal of 

refresher lessons is to help your child adjust his/her new body size and weight to his/her 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 skill between seasons. ISR recommends that your child return for Refresher Lessons every 6 months to one year. Some Instructors also offer "Maintenance Lessons" as needed. 


What do doctors have to say about swimming lessons?

In May of 2010, the AAP has now changed it's policy regarding the age at which children may that swim lessons may actually provide reduction in drowning risk of children ages 1- to 4-years-old. That study, Association Between Swimming Lessons and Childhood Drowning published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent

Medicine, March, 2009, by Brenner et. al. was the first study to probe the relationship between drowning reduction and swimming skills. That study concluded that, “Participation in formal swimming lessons was associated with an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning in the 1-to 4-year-old children…” The AAP encourages parent's to consider that starting water-survival skills training at an early age must be individualized, based on the child's frequency of exposure to water, emotional maturity, physical limitations and health concerns related to swimming pools.



How safe is it for young children to swim in a chlorinated pool?

The pH balance and overall chemistry of all pools are affected by many variables, such as air temperature,

water temperature, sunlight, humidity controls, fans, the type and amount of water treatment, as well as, the delivery system for the chemicals, etc. Studies have shown that a properly maintained pool causes no respiratory threat to young children. Specifically, when the exposure to the pool is limited, as in the case of ISR lessons, which are limited to 10 minutes per day. The ISR Registration Evaluation Team (RET) screens for children with existing and family histories of asthma and other respiratory issues and alerts the Instructor for special procedures to accommodate the situations as they are presented each day at lessons.


For more than 30 years, ISR's use of BUDS (Bowel, Urine, Diet & Sleep) sheets and poolside BUDS have allowed us to document any related health issues at indoor as well as outdoor pools. ISR's protocols, prompts and procedures are time tested and approved by our medical advisors to provide the safest lesson and pool environment possible.


Of course, we can only speak to ISR’s protocols and safety. Overall, parents must be aware of their child’s sensitivity to chlorine and the impact of heavily chlorinated pools and excessive chlorine derivatives on respiratory health. In our constant pursuit of delivering the safest and most effective survival swimming lessons, we continually monitor our program and have collected data on each of our 200,000 students since 1966, including follow up reports and input from medical experts. ISR’s comprehensive health screening process, conducted by trained medical professionals, begins by assessing the child’s overall health. If ISR’s panel of medical experts determines that a child has a condition that could be adversely impacted by exposure to chlorine, the child is not accepted into the program until the health concern has been resolved.




Infant Swimming Resource (ISR), with it’s Self-Rescue™ program, is nationally recognized as the safest provider

of survival swimming lessons for infants and young children. With a primary focus on safety and effectiveness, and as the world’s leading behavioral science based instruction program, ISR is the only choice for parents who are dedicated to their child’s safety, education and developmental needs. ISR’s worldwide network of highly qualified, certified Instructors has successfully delivered over 7 million safe lessons to infants and young children, which have resulted in our record of nearly 800 documented cases of a children utilizing ISR’s survival techniques to save their own lives. For more information on ISR, water and swim safety or for a complete list of instructors in your area, please visit

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