Are ISR lessons safe? Yes.


Founded in 1966 by Dr. Harvey Barnett, ISR is now the global leader in the industry it pioneered: survival swimming lessons for infants and young children. Our team of nearly 450 highly trained ISR Instructors provides the safest and most effective survival swimming lessons available. The ISR Self-Rescue™ instruction our students receive today is the product of over 45 years of research and achieves unparalleled results.


Today, our mission, “Not One More Child Drowns,” is the foundation of everything we do and is the driving force behind ISR’s employees, our independent ISR Instructors, and our major corporate partnerships. We believe the successful prevention of the leading cause of accidental death for children under the age of 4 in the U.S. will require a large group of caring and capable professionals whose sole focus is to save lives. To date, we have delivered more than 7,750,000 ISR Self-Rescue™ lessons and saved more than 800 lives.


ISR believes pool fences, supervision, and pool alarms are important parts of a necessary multi-layered approach to drowning prevention. However, traditional lines of defense break down, and the over 4,000 drowning deaths per year bear a grim testament to the fact that traditional approaches are missing a key component: the child. ISR’s core conviction is that the child is the most important part of a drowning prevention strategy and our over 260,000 ISR graduates and 800 documented survival stories are proof that children can save themselves. Children are curious, capable, and have an uncanny ability to overcome obstacles like pool fences; at ISR we take that ability and teach them skills to potentially save themselves if they find themselves in the water alone.


Will my child cry during lessons?


The first few weeks in lessons for a beginner are a critical time of adaptation to the new environment, the instructor, and the technique. It can be a time of apprehension in and around the water because your child has not had time to perfect his or her new skills. Some of the babies cry because crying is a form of infant communication. There are several different types of infant cries and it is important to be sensitive and educated as to what these different types of cries indicate. Each child is an individual and reacts to the lessons uniquely. Some never cry and most children stop crying when they become skilled in the water. It is very important that the parent sets the example by keeping a positive tone when at lessons and when discussing lessons with or around the child.


How do you teach a baby 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 sensorimotor 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.


Why Are Lessons 5 Days Per Week?


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 will also be loosing body heat.  Instructors check students regularly for temperature fatigue since this is an indicator of physical fatigue.


Will my child be drown-proof?


No, nobody can ever drown-proof your child. Be leary of any program that advertises they can.


Why don’t you allow the parents to be in the water during the lessons?


We do not want the baby to initially associate love, attention and affection of the parent with the water. Also, it takes incredible concentration and objectivity to teach the baby how to react to an aquatic emergency and our research shows that parents lack the objectivity to be effective teachers with their own children in the water.


Will my child learn to fear the water?


It is important that the child not fear the water because being fearful would make it more difficult for the child to learn the necessary skills. There is an important difference between being fearful and being apprehensive because you are not yet skilled in a dangerous environment.


How are the ISR Instructors trained?


ISR Instructors are the most highly trained and qualified instructors in any swimming program in the country and must undergo strict re-certification testing annually. Each instructor is academically trained and tested in areas such as child development and learning theory, behavioral science, anatomy, physiology and physics as they relate to infants and young children in the aquatic environment to provide the safest lesson possible for your child. In addition, each instructor spends a minimum of 60 hours of hands-on, supervised, in-water training working with actual students. They are all also CPR and First Aid Certified.


Why don't you teach infants under the age of 6 months?


Children under the age of 6 months are not neurologically mature enough to benefit from ISR instruction.


Why are Refresher lessons necessary?


After their initial training, it is recommended that each child participate in Refresher lessons each season. Refresher lessons are important because children change so much both cognitively and physically during the first 2-3 years of life. It is important that their aquatic skills and abilities grow with them.


How do the babies and children know to hold their breath? Breath holding skills are taught in the first lesson. We shape breath control using highly effective positive reinforcement techniques.


What about floatation devices and life jackets?


Floatation devices give children a false sense of security and hold them in postures that are not compatible with swimming skills. If a child learns that he can jump in the water and go into a vertical posture and he will be able to breathe, he is getting the wrong idea about that environment. Flotation devices are for children who cannot swim. Children, who cannot swim, should not be allowed to learn that it is safe to play in the water while relying on a crutch. Life jackets must be worn in a boat or around the water when there is the potential for an accidental submersion. They are not a substitute for the ability to swim or for adult supervision.


How do babies know how to respond to a 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 does not need to perceive danger in order to respond in this manner. He needs skill, practice and confidence to calmly deal with the situation.


Who invented this method and how long has it been practiced?


Dr. Harvey Barnett, who holds a PhD. in Psychological Foundations from the University of Florida researched and developed this program over a period of more than 40 years. For more information about ISR’s history, visit our national website at


Why not eat for at least 2 hours prior to lessons?


The lessons require a lot of physical activity for the students. We do not want them to eat prior to lessons because we want them to be as comfortable as possible.

Contact Me at 407-435-7461