Hillsborough County leads the nation is drowning deaths of children under 4. This is a statistic the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA is committed to changing.
The program, Infant Swimming Resource (ISR), is designed for children 6 months to 6 years old and teaches them how to survive should they fall into a pool or other body of water.
ISR was founded by Harvey Barnett, Ph.D, in 1966 after he discovered a neighbor’s 9-month-old child in a nearby creek. This experience with the devastating effects of a drowning on a family and community caused Barnett, a behavioral scientist, to adapt his theoretical knowledge of learning to pioneer the ISR Self-Rescue method.
Today, that method teaches infant and young children to save themselves in backyard pools and other water bodies, and has documented 790 cases of children using ISR’s survival swimming techniques to save themselves from drowning.
Here’s how the program works.
Lessons for 6- to 16 month-old children focus on teaching the child to roll onto his/her back to float, rest and breathe, and to be able to maintain this life-saving position until help arrives.
Lessons for children 1 to 6 years old focus on teaching the swim-float-swim survival sequence. Children learn to swim with their heads down, roll onto their backs to float, rest and breathe, then roll back over to resume swimming until they reach the side of the pool or reach a spot where they can climb or crawl out of the water.
“Drowning is a silent killer,” said Cindy Sofarelli, senior group vice president of the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA. “It happens quickly and quietly, and leaves families distraught. We’re committed to teaching our community’s children life-saving swim skills so they don’t become a drowning or near-drowning statistic. ISR is one way new way we’re doing this, and we want to start by providing these lessons to the children of those people who witness the devastating effects of drowning firsthand.”
Unlike other swim safety classes, each ISR program lasts for four to six weeks, occurs 10 minutes each day Monday through Friday, includes health evaluations and parent education, and are customized and taught one-on-one by a certified ISR instructor.
The program will be offered at Y's throughout Tampa Bay including the , 3414 Culbreath Rd., Valrico.
For more information about the Y’s ISR program, call Cindy Sofarelli or Christy Lowe at 813-684-1371.