News You Can Use: Infant Survival Swimming

By: Malika Dudley

KAILUA, Oahu (HawaiiNewsNow) - Statistics show more than fifty percent of parents do not consider drowning to be a threat to their children. The sad truth? That's simply not the case. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drowning is the leading cause of death for infants 1 to 4. But these two, they're not going to be a statistic. Niomi she's three and she's already completed the swimming courses and believe it or not, Aly is in classes too and she's only 9-months-old.

Parent Karen Millane said, "It just made sense to me, my mom has a pool his god parents have a pool. We live one street away from the water."  Katherine Guttormsen said, "You've heard the stories of other families that have lost babies in bathrooms and bathtubs, pools and ponds, we don't want to be one of them."

If a freak accident were to occur, infant survival swimming lessons could mean the difference between life and death. Deb Pyrek is a certified instructor for infant swimming resource. She says, "I believe we have it's almost 800 cases where these techniques have saved lives. So it really shows that it works."

More than forty years of research is behind the method and techniques that are taught. Lessons start as young as 6 months old. "We have a little girl who's 9 months old and she will show you that she can turn over on her back and float on her back and it's just an amazing thing to see," said Deb.

For infants 6 to 12 months old they learn to hold their breath under water, get to the surface, turn over and float independently. Those 12 months and older learn the same techniques but also start to swim. "When they're ready for a breath they'll swim back onto their back float on their back rest and breath then turn over and resume swimming and they'll do this as many times as they need until they get to safety so they can climb out or hold on," Deb explains.

It's important to stress that these skills do not replace adult supervision. They're simply an added layer of protection. "We try to reiterate all the time that he needs to be with somebody in the pool he uses the buddy system and there's always an adult in the water with him," said Katherine, mother of 3-year-old William. He's learned his lesson well. "You always supposed to have one buddy to keep you safe," said Will.

The infant swimming resource program is available nationwide. Lessons are five days a week for ten minute sessions and last 4 to 6 weeks. It can get pricey, averaging about 100 bucks per week but scholarships are available. "We don't want finances to be the reason a child doesn't learn the safety skills, ever," said Deb.

Click HERE for a link to the Infant Swimming Resource website.