Frankie, 22 months, cries when her Infant Swim Rescue teacher
Andie Groff lets go of her in the water and she submerges. It is
day five of the toddler's lessons, and although she clearly isn't
happy about it, Frankie quickly flips onto her back and floats.
Within a few minutes, she stops crying and not only floats but
swims underwater a foot or so.
Infant Swim Rescue teaches kids as young
as six months to flip on their back and wait for help.
Her dad, Frank Tajak of Glen Ellyn, was determined to have his
daughter learn to swim, something he'd never mastered and which
left him with a lingering apprehension about the water. So he and
his wife Christy enrolled Frankie in an Infant Swim Rescue
ISR isn't a traditional swim program; instead it teaches
children to "self-rescue" during an aquatic accident. Children as
young as six months are taught to flip onto their backs to float
and relax until help arrives, while toddlers are taught to flip
back and forth from an underwater swim to a back float while they
swim to safety.
The program isn't easy, requiring parents to bring their child
for an individual, 10-minute lesson every day for six weeks. This
allows children to learn through repetition, while accommodating
their short attention spans, Groff says. Plus there's lots of
paperwork to fill out and the program is pricey.
Jackie Huisman drives every day from Orland Park to Oak Brook
for her daughter Gabriela, 4, to attend the lessons. By the fifth
day of Gabriela's lesson, she eagerly swims a few feet to the side
of the pool with her eyes open and is learning to flip back and
forth from a float to an underwater swim.
"To know your child will know what to do if there's an accident,
I'll feel so much more comfortable," Huisman says.
ISR is available at numerous locations throughout Chicago and
the suburbs and costs $95-$105 per week, depending on location.
There is also a $105 non-refundable registration fee, which covers
the child's medical evaluation. For more information and for a
location, visit infantswim.com.
Liz DeCarlo is the former senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.
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