This story originally appeared on KERA News.
Four-year-old Lily swims like a dolphin. She’s mastered the forward crawl, flipping to her back for a deep breath when she runs out of air. She crosses her teacher’s pool in less than a minute and is all smiles when she breaks the surface.
On the other hand, there’s one and a half year-old Jhovan who’s sobbing.
“A lot of times especially in the beginning they will cry during lessons but once they become skilled then they’re confident and usually you can’t get them out of the water at that point,” says instructor Ilise Kohleriter.
Teaching Babies To Swim
She’s been teaching what’s known as Infant Swimming Resource, or ISR swim lessons for nine years now. She teaches babies as young as six months old to float unsupported and kids as young as 15 months to swim to the side of a pool on their own.
It’s Jhovan’s last day of class. Because most kids fall in the water fully clothed, Kohleriter is making sure he’s mastered the float by dropping him in the pool, dressed for a cold December day.
“He’s wearing long pants, long sleeves, a winter jacket and shoes,” she says.
Jhovan pops up like a cork and floats without a problem, but he isn’t pleased. Kohleriter isn’t surprised.
“The learning process can be challenging. It’s hard to learn new skills, it is work, it’s not playtime,” she says.
Below, see a baby employ the “swim, float, swim” technique.