Lifesaving or controversial? New class teaches infants to survive in water

Lexington, Ky.-(WKYT) Summer is in full swing, with many of us visiting the pool and the lake.

The statistics surrounding child drowning deaths in this country are alarming, but what if we told you there was a self rescue technique that could be taught to your child that might save them if they ever fell into water.

As Amber Philpott reports, there is a class, and babies right here in central Kentucky are being taught this summer.

Sound of water

It's a parents worst nightmare, their child falling into water struggling. The statistics are frightening when it comes to children and the water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children under age five.

But Graham isn't going to be one of them, at just 14-months-old he's learning a lifesaving skill.

Sound of child crying.

Its called Infant Swimming Resource or ISR and while it may be shocking to look at, little 16-month-old Kaelyn is actually learning to save her life.

Christie McGlone is a certified ISR instructor in central Kentucky. She was drawn to the program after a close family friend lost a child to drowning.

"It was a tragic accident, so I realized at that point what can we do or Is there anything we can do to change this?" said Christie McGlone.

McGlone now teaches the structured six to eight week lesson plan designed for children ages six months to six years. ISR is not a swim lesson.

"We teach them with sensory motor skills, how to hold their breath when they go under water, how to feel the level of the water rising to know to hold their breath," said McGlone.

Little Kaelyn is on her 23rd ISR lesson, mom Kelsey Thompson watches from the side, resisting the urge to help her child.

The classes are five days a week. The instructor works with the child, rolling them in the water so they learn to self rescue.

"They really don't know which way the air is, so if they were to fall in face first which we do simulated fall-ins to prepare them. They really don't know to turn over to find the air, to us it would be easy but for a child its not. So that's the focus," said McGlone.

Instruction time is only 10 minutes, to avoid stress, chills and fear.

Graham's lesson today is all about, learning to deal with falling in, fully clothed. Something that could easily happen.

"We go to Laurel Lake a lot and have a houseboat and I wanted to know that if he fell in for some reason he would have some type of survival skills that I hope would help him," said Bedell Convoy, Graham's mother.

The children learn through short, consistent lessons that the water will float them and they learn to breath correctly.

"I know sweetheart," said Derek Dillman.

For many parents the idea of seeing their child submerged in water is not easy.

"The first few weeks were tough because she would dunk him under. He was struggling trying to figure it out," said Convoy.

Derek Dillman's daughter has been in class for weeks, he still grimaces, but is amazed by what his daughter has learned.

"I feel a lot more confident that if she did fall in the water she's going to be okay," said Dillman.

Its piece of mind for a parent, watching their little ones learn a skill that just could be the life saving difference when only seconds count.

Its important to stress that McGlone says this technique is in no way a replacement for a watchful eye at all times or proper barriers around your pool.

To date nearly 300,000 babies have been taught ISR.

The class costs $75 dollars a week, but McGlone says most instructors will work with parents and there are scholarships available.

For more information on Infant Swimming Resource click on the link attached to this story.

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