Vernon Volumes

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

ISR Swimming lessons - week 1

Since we've moved to Florida, we're concerned about the the kids drowning. There are lots of pools everywhere you go, there are ponds in all the neighborhoods to aid with drainage, and there's even a pretty big ocean nearby. We've put Connor in swimming lessons in the past, but they've never really been a big help and we hadn't been impressed with the results. The Kansas City swimming lessons were usually done by high school or college kids and were fun, but not too practical. We've worked with him as well, but in Kansas City you only swim a couple months out of the year and it had been easiest to just let him splash around in his swimming jacket. He's almost five now and we know he isn't a strong swimmer and it's doubtful he'd have the right skills to deal with a situation if he fell in a pool. Paige, definitely had no skills and only thought of water as a fun place.

Andrea heard about ISR swimming lessons recently and we looked in to them. On their webpage are some amazing videos of young kids and even babies doing survival techniques. http://www.infantswim.com/lessons/isr-lessons.html

Below is a video from the ISR page showing a little girl demonstrating the techniques that Connor's learning.

The lessons are very well regarded and a big deal in Florida. We found a lady that did the lessons nearby and signed the kids up. The lessons are only ten minutes per day, but they are every day Monday through Friday for FOUR-SIX weeks. The kids are also required to be a slightly different diet that excludes apples, peaches and other things completely and limits the dairy and certain foods right before the lessons. We have to track Paige's eating, sleeping, and diapers as well to see how she's handling things. It's a big time commitment and monetary investment. We have been going now for a week and our entire evening revolves around the lessons.

Michelle, the swimming instructor, is very calm and does well with both kids. She's been doing this for a while and it shows. Although it's much warmer in Jacksonville than in Kansas City, it's still a bit chilly outside this time of year for swimming. Thankfully the lessons are indoor in a therapy pool.

Connor enjoys the lessons, however he hasn't really been challenged too hard yet. He works hard, but mostly Michelle has just been working on the concepts around swimming to the side of the pool and floating on his back. Connor is a great listener and has been doing very well so far.


Eventually, the goal for Connor is to know what to do if he falls in to the pool and know how to get out or float and wait for help. He will learn a sequence of floating to rest and breathe and to roll over and kick his feet to swim. Eventually, he'll even have to practice his technique fully clothed in "winter" clothing. Winter clothing in Florida just means a light jacket with regular clothes and shoes. Thankfully, no snow boots and heavy coats.

Connor's video is pretty basic, but you can see him swimming to the side of the pool to retrieve the rocket underwater. He also has to float and then flip over to start his swim.



Connor always goes first and Paige likes to watch, but Paige hates her lessons. When we aren't there, if you ask her if she wants to go, she will surprisingly say 'Yes', however once you get her ready to go in the pool she starts to freak out. The first day, when she first got in to the water, she was calm and happy, but once she started working on her drills she wasn't having any fun. She cries from the moment you put her in the water until you take her out. It's very hard to hear her shrieking for Mommy and Daddy. She only stops screaming the moment before she goes underwater so she can take a breath.

Michelle's approach is very real-world oriented and Paige has to work hard. The goal is for Paige to float calmly on her back until help arrives, or to reach for safety if it's nearby and kick her feet to swim to grab on to something.


Below is a video showing babies demonstrating what Paige is learning.

ISR's Roll-Back-to-Float Sequence from Infant Swimming Resource on Vimeo.


Prior to the lessons, we aren't sure what Paige would have done if she fell in a pool, but we don't even think she would have known to hold her breath. After just the first week, she knows to open her eyes under water, hold her breath and reach for help. She also naturally rolls to her back quite a bit and floats fairly well. She trusts her float a lot more than Connor even does and could probably float indefinitely. Her float isn't perfect and at times you can actually see Michelle fanning water upwards under Paige at times to get her to float higher in the water. Paige is getting better at holding her breath, but she's choked a couple times throughout the lessons and has thrown up twice. Once, she coughed up an entire blueberry that looked like it hadn't even been chewed.

Paige also hates the fact that she has to open her eyes in the water. When you talk to her about the swimming lessons she will point to her eyes and say "Eyes!" and "Water!". We tell her it's OK to open her eyes in the water, but it definitely isn't something she's comfortable with.

Paige's video is a bit hard to watch at times. You just want to snatch her out of the water and settle her down, but it's clear the lessons are working and Paige is getting a lot out of them so we've trusted Michelle and have resisted our parental instincts.



If nothing else, this first week definitely taught Paige a healthy fear of the water and how not-fun it can be if you fall in unprepared.

This Friday it was also nice since Grandma and Grandpa Vernon were in town and came along to watch.

Paige loves to watch Connor.

Andrea gets them out of the pool when they're done. She wraps them up in a towel and gets them an animal cracker as a reward. They both love the animal crackers, and it's the only thing that settles Sissy down when she's done.

We're proud of both our guys! Great work so far! We can't wait to see how much they improve!

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