ISR Tries to Drown the Truth

I found this page the other day, and I instantly became furious. The misrepresentation of  the AAP position on swimming lessons to positively market ISR was absurd!

 I have read the new position stand word for word and nothing could be further from the truth.

Mr. Barnett is quoted as claiming:

“With this statement, the AAP focuses pediatricians, other medical professionals, and most importantly parents on what has proven to be the single most vital aspect of in-water safety for infants and young children – survival swimming instruction,” said Harvey Barnett, founder of Infant Swimming Resource. “I am gratified about this turn of events after working for more than 40 years in drowning prevention. Survival swimming lessons enable infants and young children to learn the skills that could save their lives in a potential drowning situation.”

What a spin on words!!!   Here is what the actually report states:

“In recent years, water-survival skills programs designed for infants younger than 12 months have become popular both in the United States and internationally. Many movies of tiny infants who have been taught to swim underwater, float fully clothed on their backs, and even cry out for help have emerged on the Internet. Although there are anecdotal reports of infants who have “saved themselves,” no scientific study has clearly demonstrated the safety and efficacy of training programs for such young infants”.

Here is the full report.  If you would like a copy of the technical report, click here.

Truth. It’s what’s for dinner!


A picture is worth a thousand words…

Floating Baby Heads in China

I consider myself to be open- minded about certain things. What some people find strange or weird tends to spike my curiosity. Well, imagine my reaction when I stumbled upon this, and countless similar videos on Youtube.

Holy moly, it’s a floating head!  Of course, I started thinking: “Does it hurt the baby?”  “Why do they do this?” “Why haven’t I seen this in the US?”

As I started to look at more videos and asked some of my Chinese clients to help me understand this, I came to discover that this practice in very common in China and other countries. It is seen as a way to transition the newborn from the aquatic environment of the womb to the “traumatic” world.

It is thought that the environment created in the tub allows the infant to move about freely in a suspended state, much like the womb. Many believe that the weightless environment creates a platform where the babies can move their limbs, get exercise, stretch and explore their world, all while being cognitively stimulated by a nearby parent. Usually songs are sung, music is played, or the parent simply talks to the baby as it floats around in the tub.

Hmm.  I sat there, conflicting emotions. Part of me thought; “this is just too weird, creepy almost…” but then the other voice in my head reasoned that the babies all seem to enjoy it the more they get used to it, and it is such a common practice that if it were harmful to the children, it wouldn’t be so popular.

I looked at the company that produces it,and didn’t entirely agree with their marketing campaign:


” The first step to active infant swimming and water safety is learning to tread water safely and securely. Swimava allows natural movement of arms and legs so your baby can develop the ‘treading movement’ naturally and as early as possible”

Any well-trained and experienced infant instructor will tell you that the first step in infant swimming in NOT treading water securely, but rather establishing comfort in the water, breath control and buoyancy. The essential body position for any kind of “survival” style floating or “regular” swimming is horizontal, not vertical. An infant/ toddler simply doesn’t have the physiological, mental or physical ability to tread water. It is developmentally impossible at that age. 

However educated I am on the subject of infant swimming, I know there are hundreds of parents who aren’t knowledgable about the specifics of body position, water buoyancy and swimming related nuances, but if this little ring will help bring a parent closer to their child, get them interested in the water, learn to love, appreciate and respect the water, then one day they will be enlightened at their first official swim lesson.

I will let Modest Mouse’s song “Float On” sign off:

Alright already, we’ll all float on.
Alright already, we’ll all float on OK.
Don’t worry, we’ll all float on.
Even if things get heavy, we’ll all float on.
Alright already, we’ll all float on alright.
Don’t you worry, we’ll all float on.
We’ll all float on.







Creating an Environment of Cultural Awareness

One of the things I love about aquatics as an industry is that is encompasses so many fields. I must have a very clear understanding of some hard sciences: Geometry, Physics, Algebra to run my pool. In order to know pool chemistry, one must practically have a Ph.D  in Chemistry. Classic, undisputed and clear. I like the rules and boundaries that these subjects offer, and the results when you deviate from them.

Dealing with people is a whole other set of bubbles.  What is right for one person is offensive to another. The rules get rewritten with every person. Where is the rule book? Glossary, please! During the holidays, I always feel like I’m juggling glass bubbles, and one wrong, un-PC comment will cause shards of glass to fly.

“Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, Happy Holidays…”

 I once told a client “Have a happy Ramadan!”  She was Jewish.   *Crash*

Conversely, we have an instructor who wears a modest body suit and head wear in compliance with her religious faith. She spends more time explaining the meaning of  her suit than she does teaching. Frequently, she confides in me that she wishes people would simply embrace the difference, rather than having her explain the reasons for it.

Embrace the differences.

At our pool we have an extremely diverse clientele, and with that comes the complex myriad of  religious faiths, ideals, cultural practices and belief systems.  As aquatic professionals, swim instructors dealing with multitudes of cultures need to work hard and sensitively at learning about their clients, their cultural celebrations and holidays, beliefs and family practices.  Know the child, and even more, know the child’s family. Building that bridge and fostering those relationships can produce great swimmers, happy kids and satisfied parents.

As Stephen Covey is famously quoted: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Ponder the prune?

                                               As a swim instructor, one of the most frequently asked question I hear is about my skin. “Don’t you get all pruny?” Kids will often exclaim at their ‘raisin fingers”. I always thought it was from dehydration, or the weather.

Low and behold, it has to do with Keratin, which is a protein, in the outer-most layer of your skin. It’s job is to protect our skin from dirt, bacteria and moisture.

When over-exposed to water, the layer of keratin can no longer block out all the water, resulting in the osmotic action of water moving into your cells. This causes the skin to wrinkle and “prune”.

Thankfully, it’s not permanent, or even the youngest of swim instructors across America would look like senior citizens!

Dipping the toes in.

Welcome to my blog, and thanks for reading.
I am so happy to begin this journey, and hope to hear from all of you as we go “swimming”.
Navigating around in the world of aquatics can be deep, murky and very disorienting, so please visit frequently, as I shine on light on various topics in aquatics such as swim lessons, water fitness, aquatic legislation, observations from the deck, pool chemistry, swim lessons, risk management and much more.