ISR & Traditional Swimming Lesson Differences

A summer tradition for many families is getting kids involved in swimming lessons. This is not only to make sure little ones are safe around water but to help them become proficient at swimming as well. As such, parents choose to put their infants and toddlers in one of two different types of lessons. Those lessons are infant swimming Resource or traditional swimming lessons. But knowing which is the right option for small children can be confusing. And this is why knowing the difference between ISR and traditional swimming lessons will help parents make the right choice for their babies when it comes to swimming lessons.


Decades ago, people grew up participating in group swimming lessons at a private pool or a public venue. All age groups were able to participate in classes that ranged from Mommy and Me classes to proficient older children lessons. Once lessons were over, summer officially began and many kids were let loose around open bodies of water. Those who knew how to swim made their way around the pool while those who were not experts stayed in the shallow end.

Fortunately, water safety has come a long way since then and parents are more aware of how important it is to always have eyes on infants and toddlers around open water. That in conjunction with better water safety classes has saved countless lives of small children.

RELATED: Why I Need To Get My Kid Into Swimming Lessons

Here is the difference between ISR and traditional swim lessons for babies.

What Is ISR Swimming?

Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) is a mode of swimming lessons that teach infants and toddlers how to survive if they accidentally find themselves in a body of water. According to My Baby SwimsISR’s goal is to make sure that small children can become “aquatic problem solvers” Regardless of the depth of water they find themselves in.

Per the publication, lessons occur five days per week and are only 10 minutes long. And in order to be proficient as an ISR swimmer, the lessons take four to six weeks to complete.

These lessons, according to My Baby Swims are one-on-one instruction. Parents do not get in the pool with their babies so that little ones truly learn how to right themselves in the water to be able to survive for the moments before parents can get them out of the water.

What Are Traditional Swimming Lessons?

Traditional swimming lessons are likely what parents grew up participating in. According to AquaMobilethese lessons generally occur one day per week for six to nine weeks and last anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes at a stretch.

Per the publication, traditional swimming lessons will teach babies how to:

  • Float on their backs
  • Kick their legs
  • Hold their breath
  • Move their arms in the water

This is taught through a series of challenges and games and each series of swimming lessons builds on the foundation of the previous ones.

Unlike ISR, according to AquaMobile, traditional swimming lessons teach swimming to those who want to learn to swim for fun. For those who are under the age of three, parent participation is generally required.

Benefits & Drawbacks Of ISR

ISR swimming can be a great choice for babies, toddlers, and even older children who may not have learned how to swim. However, like with all things, there are benefits and drawbacks to this mode of swimming lesson.

Pros of ISR swimming

According to Emmy Lou Stylessome benefits to ISR swimming include:

  • Babies and toddlers learn how to right themselves in the water so that they can survive after falling into a body of water
  • The instructions are one-on-one.
  • Classes are five days per week and last four to six weeks to make sure that babies know what they are doing before they graduate.
  • Babies and toddlers will not stress out if they fall into the water fully clothed as ISR is taught both in bathing suits and fully clothed.
  • Older babies will learn how to “swim-float-swim” to be able to get themselves to safety if they fall into the unnoticed water.

Cons of ISR swimming

According to Live 5there are some drawbacks to ISR swimming lessons. They include:

  • Parents get a false sense of security with babies around open water.
  • Classes can be expensive at over $100 per week for swimming lessons.
  • Babies may try to get into the water because they have a love of swimming.
  • Babies may learn to dislike the water because they do not enjoy being dunked.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics states that ISR does not decrease the chances of babies drowning who are under the age of one.

Regardless of how much time is spent in the water, babies and young children should always be supervised when it comes to being around open bodies of water.

Pros & Cons Of Traditional Swimming Lessons

Traditional swimming lessons are how many babies, toddlers, and older children have learned to swim. But there are pros and cons to this method of teaching kids to swim.

Pros of traditional swimming lessons

According to the American Academy of Pediatricsthe pros of traditional swimming lessons include:

  • Prevents drowning in babies over the age of one through the age of four.
  • Mommy and Me classes get babies used to being in the water.
  • Swimming lessons build on the foundation of the previous classes to keep the momentum of learning alive.
  • Lessons are not as time-consuming, occurring one to two days per week.

Cons of traditional swimming lessons

According to Infant Swimthe Cons of traditional swimming lessons include:

  • Instructors are both supervising and teaching several babies to swim at the same time.
  • Flotation devices are used and give babies a false sense of security in the water.
  • Instructors are not required to attend intensive training to teach swimming lessons.
  • Babies can become cold spending so much time in the water.

Whatever swimming lessons are chosen for babies this summer, the important thing is that some form of water safety is being taught. Because at the end of the day, the goal of both ISR and traditional lessons is to keep little ones safe around the water.

Source: My Baby Swims, AquaMobile, Emmy Lou Styles, Live 5, American Academy of Pediatrics, Infant Swim

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