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Preventing tragedy: Infants learn to float in swimming lessons

Published: May. 4, 2022 at 4:40 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A Lubbock family is holding their little one tighter, after the near drowning of their 18-month-old on Monday.

As the weather warms up and families start to get their pools ready, Lubbock moms are encouraging them to take every precaution. One safeguard, infant swimming lessons, can provide precious seconds in an emergency.

According to the CDC, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for kids ages one to four. Lubbock mom Kristin Proctor is working to lower those numbers through prevention. She’s a certified master instructor for the Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) Self-Rescue program. She says along with teaching kids how to swim and have fun, she teaches them how to survive.

“Definitely getting your kid into something is better than nothing, but the thing that I look at is, is that teaching safety, or is it teaching them to have fun? Water should be fun, but making sure that they have skills to back up that fun is obviously the most important,” she said.

The ISR Self-Rescue program is a four to eight week course for kids ages six months to six years. The one-on-one classes are 10 minutes a day, five days a week. Little ones who aren’t walking yet learn how to hold their breath underwater and roll onto their back to float until someone can get to them. Older kids learn how to switch between swimming and floating until they get to where they want or need to be.

“You’re asking them to do something that’s completely new and foreign, that probably nobody’s ever asked them to do before, but as they get more skill behind them, then they build on that skill and you start to see their increase in happiness all sudden, they get in the water one day, and they’re wild. They’re all over the place and look amazing,” she said.

Proctor has taken her own children through the program, so she know what it’s like to see the transformation. For some parents, like Alyssa Willis, the training can be a little scary at first. But, she says her daughter Brooke learned quickly and seeing that result made it all worth it.

“It was scary but I would prefer to be a little nervous in a controlled situation with professionals and she gets to figure it out and learn, versus it happened at my in-laws pool when there’s nobody around and horrible things could happen,” Willis said.

Willis knows families who’ve experienced drowning. She says it can happen to even the most attentive parents.

“It takes seconds. I feel the most beneficial thing with ISR is that it gives me precious seconds because she will float automatically and it just gives me more time if something horrible did happen,” she said.

Sarah Metzler says her daughter Blakely’s personality played a role in placing her in ISR, along with how often she’s near water.

“She has no fear and so I knew, she will jump in water. So for me, it was really not a question. She has to do something like this,” Metzler said. “My in-laws have a pool. My parents live on the lake. So, there’s a lot of water around. I just think it gives parents such a peace of mind when you have your child around water, and it helps them understand the water and just gives them the skills that they need.”

Proctor warns about the false security parents can get from devices like floaties.

“They’re going to put that kid in floatation devices typically, and that’s going to bring them to into a vertical position, which is also termed as the drowning position. They cannot tread water like an adult might be able to, they’re not able to sustain that body posture right there, versus being in a horizontal body posture that can sustain a float,” Proctor said. “Another thing about different floatation devices is that, unfortunately, a child doesn’t realize when they take it off, it’s off and that’s what was actually doing the work for you, not yourself.”

Proctor says supervision is still the number one way to make sure kids are safe. She recommends other safeguards like putting up a pool fence, a pool cover and setting up alarms.

Proctor and ISR instructor Tye Basquez, who she trained, have openings for their July Self-Rescue program. She says to make sure instructors are ISR-certified through their website before signing up for classes.

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