Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Tansi Smoke Signals

June 25, 2014

Never too soon to start water safety lessons

CROSSVILLE — Lake Tansi would like to encourage everyone who enjoys the water to play safely. Lake Tansi has such wonderful amenities, including the lake and pools, but playing it safe is better than not playing at all.

Tansi resident, Janet Yuse, enjoyed a weeklong visit from her daughter and granddaughter, Kristen and Olivia Clark, from Connecticut. Little Olivia is 22-months-old and has nearly graduated from a unique program that teaches infants how to float and swim in the water called Infant Swimming Resource (ISR). Differing from conventional swim lessons, the ISR program teaches infants 6 months to 6-years-old special techniques to increase surviving potential and prevent drowning by emphasizing age appropriate self-rescue skills. 

Janet Yuse and Kristen Clark, both educators, realize the potential for accidental drowning and the only prevention is education, readiness and action.

“It is never too early to have your child get acquainted with the water,” said Clark. “To be able to have more control over the amount of accidental drowning in children means there’s more fun to be had. Inexperienced swimmers are especially at risk; most of which are children. It’s about reinforcing life-saving skills and averting potential tragedy.”

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that drowning ranks fifth in the US among leading causes of unintentional injury death. For children ages 1-4, drowning rates are the highest and is responsible for more deaths among this age group than any other aside from birth defects. Of ages 1-14 years, fatal drowning remains the second-most cause of unintentional injury related death.

“It only takes a second,” urged Yuse, “and your child is in danger. These classes are water safety beyond the basics and the key is to start early.”

ISR was created in 1966 by Dr. Harvey Barnett whose mission was to ensure that not one more child drowns. The lessons are taught by certified instructors during one-on-one sessions for 10 minutes at a time, five days a week for six weeks. The teaching philosophies behind it are propelled by the idea that infants and children are not natural swimmers and are all at risk.

Children are taught water survival skills in this sequence: how to hold their breath underwater; swim with their head down and eyes open; roll onto their back to float, rest, and breathe. Then they are taught how to incorporate all these skills until they can alternate swimming and resting and back to swimming in anticipation of a recue or reaching the side to climb out of the water.

Little Olivia Clark has only completed about four weeks of her aquatic survival training, but her newly acquired swimming skills were impressive. Practicing at Lake Tansi pool, she wasn’t exactly happy, but she implemented the skills necessary to alternate swimming and resting so she didn’t get overwhelmed, was able to breathe, and continually made progress towards either her mother or grandmother.

“After she pushes off to swim with her face in the water, she knows that she can roll over to float, rest and breathe,” stated Clark, as she monitored Olivia’s progress keeping a watchful eye and helpful hand nearby. “She may not like having to do this, especially if she gets tired, but she is capable and that is the most important thing.”

Olivia is able to swim, resurface, roll over, and float. As she keeps floating with her chin up and face out of the water, she stays calm and breathes and calls for her mommy. Janet Yuse is very proud of her granddaughter and the added security these lessons have given them.

“It doesn’t replace parental supervision,” said Yuse, "but it is an extra measure of safety if the unexpected happens.”

The CDC reports that the top three factors leading to drowning are lack of swimming ability, lack of barriers to deter access to open water areas and lack of close supervision. Providing formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of accidental drowning even more. Even teaching basic swimming at home can help.

Play it safe in the water this summer by keeping a close watch, learning to swim, refreshing skills, and learning CPR. For more information about ISR visit 

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