A Lifesaving Keiki Gift Idea

Ryan Carl, 12 months old, floats in clothes for the final exam | Photo courtesy Jens Trumpa

Ryan Carl, 12 months old, floats in clothes for the final exam | Photo courtesy Jens Trumpa

The best gift you can give young child isn’t something you can wrap up and put under a Christmas tree or stuff into a stocking.

It’s something that could save his or her life: swimming survival. I recently put my daughter through the ISR program in Aina Haina, and I’m so glad I did.

ISR stands for Infant Swimming Resource. Before babies can walk, they can learn to float on their backs.

In four to six weeks, infants from 6 to 12 months old learn to hold their breath underwater, roll onto their back and float unassisted.

For older students ages 1-6, they also learn to swim with their head down and eyes open; roll onto their back to float, rest and breathe; and roll back over to resume swimming until they reach the side of the pool.

I witnessed ISR firsthand when I visited a class in Kailua. I talked to an instructor and parents of children who had already mastered the technique. I even heard about one 14-month-old who went through ISR one week before wandering into his pool alone, undetected. He’s alive because he knew what to do. That inspired me to sign up my daughter.

The commitment is 10 minutes a day for a month and a half. The cost? It’s $95 a week, well worth every penny and minute spent. It was truly amazing to watch how quickly my daughter learned, despite daily protests.

Instructor Jens Trumpa isn’t fazed by screaming children. He’s taught hundreds, including 1-year-old Ryan Carl. Day after day, I would watch as Ryan would calmly cruise on his back in the pool.

Ryan’s mom, Maria, put her now 9-year-old daughter through the course on the Mainland, and was thrilled to find ISR in Hawaii, too. She says, “I was amazed watching my son Ryan learning to float when he hadn’t yet even learned to walk! I’m a firm believer.”

Normally, children learn in a swim shirt and diaper, but the final test is to float in clothes. Statistics show 83 percent of all children who drown are fully clothed at the time. Ryan aced his final exam.

According to the ISR website, instructors have trained more than 175,000 infants. It’s no replacement for parental supervision, but consider this statistic. Of all preschoolers who drown, 70 percent are in the care of one or both parents at the time, and 75 percent are missing from sight for five minutes or less.

It’s a real-life case of sink or swim. When you think about the potential consequences, ISR may be the three most important letters to teach a child long before they learn ABC.

Infant Swimming Resource Honolulu (ISR)
To find an instructor near you, visit the ISR national site listed here.

www.infantswim.com joaquinx2@me.com