Lifesaver: Kennette Pyles and ISR

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Kennette Pyles equips tots with life-saving swimming skills.

 

Full2361.jpgIt’s a day I’ll never forget. The image of my pigtailed baby girl, barely 3 years old, dressed in jeans, tennis shoes and a long sleeve hoodie sweatshirt, teetering over the edge of a swimming pool.

And then it happened. She jumped in.

Her heavy winter clothes quickly filled with water and dragged her under. But thanks to the revolutionary survival swim lessons she’d taken in the weeks before this final test, my tiny girl possessed the confidence and skills to swim to the surface, roll on her back, relax her body and breathe. Then she paddled to the steps, climbed out of the pool and asked me to take her to Krispy Kreme!

It sounds amazing, but she’s just one of hundreds of local infants and toddlers who have completed the Infant Swim Resource (ISR) program taught by certified instructor Kennette Pyles at Middle Tennessee Scuba and Swim in Franklin. These munchkins, most of whom can’t write their names and some who can hardly walk, regularly wow the crowds at local pools with their astonishing swimming abilities.

“People always ask ‘How old is he?’ and ‘How did he learn to do that?'” says Heather Cornett of Franklin, whose son Colin, took ISR lessons shortly after his third birthday. Unlike many of Pyles’ tiny students who are afraid to put their face in the water or jump off the side, Colin had no fear of the water, but no swimming skills either. “He’d jump right in without floaties,” says Cornett, “but he didn’t know how to swim.” After four weeks of lessons, her daredevil son now confidently jumps into water over his head (with Mom or Dad standing nearby, of course), flips on his back to take a breath and quickly swims to the side of the pool.

What’s ISR?

Infant Swimming Research (ISR) is a nationally recognized system of aquatic survival instruction for infants and young children. It was developed by Harvey Barnett, Ph.D., in the 1970s after discovering that a neighbor’s child had drowned in a shallow canal.

Lessons last for a mere 10 minutes, but children, ages 6 weeks to 6 years old attend training five days a week for approximately four to six weeks. Unlike many swim programs where parents are asked to leave during weekly group classes, ISR and similar programs require parents to cheer from the poolside and become proficient in the techniques and terms their children are learning. Once a week, Mom or Dad is asked to don their swimsuit and assist in coaching their kiddo in the pool alongside Pyles.

These aren’t your old fashioned “let’s blow bubbles and learn the front crawl” swim lessons you may remember from childhood. ISR doesn’t focus on strokes. It teaches the most basic of water safety skills: back floating, finding an exit and swimming toward it. Pyles explains, “When you go to the pool, you don’t see little kids doing the butterfly. They’re going to the bottom, jumping in, horsing around. That’s why critics think little kids can’t learn to swim because they can’t learn complicated strokes and side breathing. But they can roll on their backs and float. A baby can do it.”

 


Who is Kennette Pyles?

A former executive with a company car and all the perks, Pyles now spends the majority of her days in a wetsuit patiently encouraging Middle Tennessee’s smallest citizens until they’re instinctively able to pop to the surface of the water … despite being unexpectedly rolled in backwards with their clothes on or disoriented by being flipped facedown in the pool. Why the unlikely career change? Because Pyles’ entire life changed seven years ago when her 3-and-a-half-year-old son, Ryan, drowned in a lake in Alabama during an annual family camping trip.

Three weeks after the death of her son, Pyles flew to Florida with her 1-year-old daughter Caroline to work personally with Barnett. “He had her floating in a couple of lessons,” recalls Pyles. “Ever since I met him, it all changed,” she says. “After seeing the successful results with my own two children, I was so impressed with the program, its instructors and the overall philosophy of ISR that I decided to become an instructor to give more children these life-saving, confidence-building skills in our community.” She estimates between 400 – 500 local children have completed her classes held here in Middle Tennessee.

Who is Kennette Pyles?

A former executive with a company car and all the perks, Pyles now spends the majority of her days in a wetsuit patiently encouraging Middle Tennessee’s smallest citizens until they’re instinctively able to pop to the surface of the water … despite being unexpectedly rolled in backwards with their clothes on or disoriented by being flipped facedown in the pool. Why the unlikely career change? Because Pyles’ entire life changed seven years ago when her 3-and-a-half-year-old son, Ryan, drowned in a lake in Alabama during an annual family camping trip.

Three weeks after the death of her son, Pyles flew to Florida with her 1-year-old daughter Caroline to work personally with Barnett. “He had her floating in a couple of lessons,” recalls Pyles. “Ever since I met him, it all changed,” she says. “After seeing the successful results with my own two children, I was so impressed with the program, its instructors and the overall philosophy of ISR that I decided to become an instructor to give more children these life-saving, confidence-building skills in our community.” She estimates between 400 – 500 local children have completed her classes held here in Middle Tennessee.

Who is Kennette Pyles?

A former executive with a company car and all the perks, Pyles now spends the majority of her days in a wetsuit patiently encouraging Middle Tennessee’s smallest citizens until they’re instinctively able to pop to the surface of the water … despite being unexpectedly rolled in backwards with their clothes on or disoriented by being flipped facedown in the pool. Why the unlikely career change? Because Pyles’ entire life changed seven years ago when her 3-and-a-half-year-old son, Ryan, drowned in a lake in Alabama during an annual family camping trip.

Three weeks after the death of her son, Pyles flew to Florida with her 1-year-old daughter Caroline to work personally with Barnett. “He had her floating in a couple of lessons,” recalls Pyles. “Ever since I met him, it all changed,” she says. “After seeing the successful results with my own two children, I was so impressed with the program, its instructors and the overall philosophy of ISR that I decided to become an instructor to give more children these life-saving, confidence-building skills in our community.” She estimates between 400 – 500 local children have completed her classes held here in Middle Tennessee.

Middle Tennessee Scuba and Swim
320 Mallory Station Road, Franklin

mtss.net/swim.asp

For additional information about ISR visit infantswim.com

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