A mother is fighting back after a video of her infant daughter struggling as she learns to swim has drawn criticism from those thinking the method is extreme.
Keri Morrison is determined to have her young daughter, Josie, learn to swim after her 2 1/2-year-old son, Jake, accidentally drowned three years ago. In the video, the baby is enticed by an adult holding a tiny sandal and flops face-first into the water before righting herself by flipping around to her back.
Mom fights critics for controversial toddler swimming lessons
“You’re seeing a 6-month-old sitting on the steps playing, which can be a real life situation,” Morrison said on TODAY Monday. “She falls in and she turns over and saves herself and floats for over a minute and a half. I don’t see how there could be anything negative about that.”
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The technique is called Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) and teaches children as young as 6 months old how to “self-rescue.” Babies are taught in 10-minute sessions, five days a week for four to six weeks to learn ISR. Morrison was adamant about her daughter learning as early as possible after the tragic death of their son on Nov. 30, 2013. He slipped out a back door in the dark and fell off a dock in Orlando.
“I wish I could go back in time and put my son in these lessons,” Morrison said. “I’m pretty confident that he would be here, and as a parent, I felt like I failed my son, and I was just determined that was not going to happen with my daughters.”
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Keri and her husband, Roarke, have set up a foundation in memory of their son called Live Like Jake, which brings awareness to drowning prevention and provides scholarships for swim lessons to those who can’t afford them.
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Children over the age of 1 be at a lower risk of drowning if they’ve had some formal swimming instruction, but there is no evidence that it can prevent drowning in younger babies, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Josie is now 1 and has taken to the water like a natural.
“Do I expect my daughter at that young of an age to be alone near the water? No, but the layers of protection can fail,” Morrison said. “Supervision failed. It failed with my son, and it can happen, and I just want my daughters to be as safe as possible.”
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