ISR FAQs

Is this program where instructors just throw kids into the water?

No, your instructor will never “throw” your child into the water. Each lesson is completely tailored to your child’s needs and current skill level, and because lessons are one-on-one, each child is able to progress at a pace appropriate for them. Under the guidance of their instructor, students safely learn to swim, float and self-rescue, both in swimsuits and clothes. Children are taught how to find their float and self-rescue in a variety of real-life situations, and you may have seen instructors (with children who are near the end of their sessions) simulate different ways a child might unexpectedly enter the water. These real-life simulations only occur once children are fully skilled and able to complete the performance opportunity with ease. These simulations do not ever include throwing a child into the water!

How much does ISR cost? Is it more expensive than other swim programs?

ISR has been researched and developed for nearly 50 years. It’s nationally recognized as the safest swim program for infants and children. It typically costs $100-150 per week depending on the instructor, location, and pool rental fees.

Consider these points regarding the cost of ISR lessons:

1. ISR teaches your children to swim in a one-on-one setting. ISR teaches your child to swim with their face in the water, roll back to rest and breathe, and flip over to continue swimming. Your children will learn life-saving skills.

2. You do not need to enroll your children in swim lessons summer after summer, year after year. Once they learn these skills, and with refreshers every few months, they will retain their skills.

3. Every ISR instructor undergoes 8 weeks of intense, hands-on training, in the pool with an ISR Master Instructor and students, learning the ISR method. For 6-8 weeks, Instructors are in the pool 5x per week for several hours a day, for a minimum of 60 hours with actual students. In addition, instructors receive academic training in anatomy, physiology, child psychology, behavior and development, sensorimotor learning, and how each relates to the aquatic environment. Every instructor also must maintain current CPR and First Aid certifications, as well as annual recertification and testing to maintain ISR certification and skills.

How often are lessons, and how long will it take for my child to become skilled?

Lessons are attended 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week (Monday-Friday) for approximately 6 weeks (may at times take 7-8 weeks). The consistency of daily lessons is critical for learning efficiency. These are NOT traditional swim lessons! We are teaching highly specialized skills, and it is very important to attend a class every day. If you cannot commit to this schedule, you might not want to register until you are sure you can.

How will I make room in my busy schedule for this commitment?

Every ISR family has asked themselves this same question when considering the ISR lesson commitment. Please reach out to our team if you would like to be connected to a family who has successfully found ways to integrate ISR into their busy schedules.

Will my child be drown-proof after ISR?

No swim or self-rescue program can “drown-proof” your child as there’s no such thing as drown-proof! ISR is not a substitution for supervision, however, it does give your child the skills to be an aquatic problem solver and have the best fighting chance in the event that all other barriers (fence, locks, supervision) fail them.

What if my child cries? Will he/she develop a fear of water?

Some children cry. They are at a new pool they’ve probably never been to before, and are being handed to a stranger in the water. It’s normal for them to be wary of the situation. It’s also important for us to teach your child to trust his/her instructor and eventually to trust the water. Many kids can’t wait to come to lessons as their confidence begins to grow.

Fear is a learned behavior. When someone has a negative experience that involves the fearful object or experience, fear is developed. Your child will only truly be fearful of the water if he or she has witnessed or experienced a traumatic aquatic event, or if someone close to them has and has tied that emotion to the experience for the child.

What will my child learn?

IF MY CHILD IS UNDER A YEAR OLD, WHAT WILL HE/SHE BE ABLE TO LEARN?

Children between the ages of 6 to 12+ months old are taught to roll over and maintain a float position in the event of an accidental fall into the water. Fully skilled infants can maintain afloat in a bathing suit or in clothing. ISR highly recommends survival training when your infant begins to crawl.

IF MY CHILD IS OVER A YEAR OLD AND WALKING INDEPENDENTLY, WHAT WILL HE/SHE BE ABLE TO LEARN?

Children over the age of one year old are taught to swim with their face in the water, and when they sense the need for air, to roll back to their back and float. After resting and catching their breath, they roll over and continue to swim to the nearest point of safety. A child can perform this swim, float, swim sequence to safely reach their point of entry into the water in a survival situation. Children can also perform this sequence in their clothes. If a child does not see a way out of his predicament, he will roll over on his back and maintain a float position. This buys the parent time in the event of an accident. This same sequence is most often used for fun at the pool! The confidence and self-esteem of these young swimmers are truly amazing! When fully skilled with the swim, float, swim sequence, older children can move directly into stroke work with their ISR instructor.

For how long will my child retain these skills?

While ISR research shows that students who finish with strong self-rescue skills have a high likelihood of maintaining these potentially life-saving reflexes for up to a year, we highly recommend maintenance or refresher lessons more frequently. The maintenance and refresher program allows your child to keep or gain confidence, better enjoy the self-rescue skills for use during playtime at the pool, and to keep skills strong enough to be efficient on their growing bodies. It also allows us to continue to remediate any interfering habits that are picked up outside of lessons and to further educate your family on honoring your child’s skills.

My kid is older, isn't it too late for him to learn ISR skills?

Simply put, no, it is never too late for a child to learn self-rescue skills. Even children who have had previous traditional swim lessons can learn the self-rescue skills needed to keep them safer in and around the water.

What is the intended purpose of life jackets and personal flotation devices (PFDs)?

80% of children who drowned in open water, such as ponds, lakes, oceans and rivers, were not wearing a life jacket. Coast Guard Approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) can save a life in the event of an emergency fall-in and can make swimming in open/treacherous water safer. It is the law that children wear these on moving vessels. These same devices, if used for fun at the pool, delay the learn to swim process and create a false sense of security and false conceptions about the aquatic environment for the child.  During swim-time at the pool, ISR instructors recommend that parents remove the PDF and get into the water to support their child and allow the child to engage with and explore the water within their arms reach. 

When will my child be confident in the water?

The initial set of lessons or session focuses on the acquisition of basic self-rescue skills, plus a general respect for and understanding of water. We recommend ISR refreshers lessons (shorter continuation courses) periodically throughout the year. Refresher courses allow toddlers and preschoolers to first ensure their skills stay strong and then gain greater confidence and enjoyment while swimming.

How do I register for lessons with an independently contracted CAST Supported ISR Instructor?

At CAST we are proud to support independently contracted certified ISR instructors and their ISR swim families. These instructors have a scheduling support team that will work with you to find an instructor and location. Once a time slot has been agreed upon, you will receive a unique ISR registration link for your instructor. To contact the scheduling team, please visit the ISR lesson inquiry form.

I'm interested in becoming an instructor. What do I do?

Visit the ISR Careers Page to learn more about becoming an ISR certified instructor. If you decide to apply through ISR, please let us know! We’d love to follow your journey and discuss possible collaborations.