We signed up our 5-year-old for swimming lessons at INFANT SWIMMING RESOURCE / ISR / InfantSwim.com.
At the beginning of the first lesson, our son told the instructor that he didn't want to put his face in the water. She asked why not. He replied, "Because I don't want to die." She assured him she would NOT let go of him and that he was safe. Keep reading and you'll see why we think that was a lie.
During the first 10-minute lesson, she tried to get him to float on his back but he wouldn't put his head back in the correct position. He was frightened and shaking but we assumed he would warm up to her, learn to trust her, and then follow her instructions. She seemed kind at first but also very firm. He did not warm up to her at all.
On the second day, she took him into the pool and once again tried to get him to float with her supporting him. At no time did she teach him how to hold his breath, or kick his legs, or move his arms the correct way. She only put him on his back, supporting him with her leg, and tried to get him to lay his head back. He was unsteady on her leg and rocking back and forth on his back, so he kept thinking he was "falling." He was shaking again and wouldn't put his head back. She said to me, "I might need to dunk him tomorrow."
I thought she meant she would blow in his face and start teaching him how to hold his breath. She didn't wait until the next day, however, and she didn't just "dunk" him. She removed him from her leg and just let go of him, letting him sink completely under the water. He was floundering and panicked under the water, not knowing what to do. I could see his arms flailing and his legs frantically moving.
LET'S BE HONEST ABOUT THIS. HIS BRAIN TOLD HIM HE WAS DROWNING AND HE RESPONDED TO THAT BY PANICKING! That is not "swimming lessons." That is child abuse!
She pulled him back up after a few seconds and tried to get him to float again. He was shaking violently, yelling, and saying "No! I don't want to!" She responded by repeating the simulated drowning 5 more times! She'd put him in her leg and if he wouldn't put his head back, she'd let go of him under the water again, causing him to kick and flail, trying to save himself from drowning!
All the while, she was chatting and calmly telling me he was "fine." Each time she pulled him up, he screamed louder and, in the end, was holding his arms out toward me while screaming, obviously wondering why I wasn't saving him from her. It took every ounce in my being not to jump in that pool and save my child and I will have to live with the guilt from my stupidity for the rest of my life.
Before you attack me for letting this happen (believe me, I've already attacked myself), please understand that we thought we were dealing with a professional. Only after the few minutes of trauma and him getting out of the pool did I replay the terrifying events in my mind and realize that she was punishing him for not floating by simulating drowning (6 times!!), like the other mother's experience here. She was NOT teaching him how to swim. At no time did she ever broach the subject of holding one's breath, kicking, padding - NOTHING! He was being punished for not putting his head back - punished by withholding oxygen and making him think he was drowning (dying).
In my opinion, this is no different than burning a child to teach them not to play with matches. CHILD ABUSE!!!
I do feel all children should learn to swim but this is not the way to do it. Frankly, now that I've read complaints about this firm online, I can't believe the authorities haven't investigated them for child abuse. FORCING A CHILD UNDER WATER IS CHILD ABUSE!!! And, if any child has ever died in one of these lessons (reports online allege this has happened), it is my opinion that forcing a child under water knowing they might die certainly must be a violation of several laws!
I can't help but wonder what type of controlling personality would get involved in something deplorable like this where they spend their days terrifying infants and young children, all in the name of "survival." God only knows what type of psychological damage occurs in these children, to say nothing of the lost trust between the child and the parent who allows this to happen.
Our son did NOT want to get into our pool yesterday afternoon, and was begging me to not "make him go under." He used to love the pool! It could take weeks to undo the damage they did in just 1 swimming lesson where they made him flounder under the water, believing he was drowning. AGAIN, CHILD ABUSE!!!!
This happened to our son 2 days ago and I've had nightmares about it for the past 2 nights. I will have to live with the guilt for the rest of my life for what I allowed to happen to our child, right in front of my eyes, just because I assumed that trained "professional" knew what was best.
We have found a new, conventional swimming teacher and, when I told our son a new, kinder lady is going to teach him to swim, he was terrified.
We have four other children who have all learned to swim in the past with no tears at all. I firmly believe all children should learn to swim but ISR's method is NOT the way it should be done!
PLEASE LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKE AND DON'T LET THE SAME THING HAPPEN TO YOUR CHILD!