• Hamptons Swim Team

ISR vs. Swim Lessons

Are you a parent or guardian looking to sign your child up for lessons, but don’t know whether to choose ISR or traditional swim lessons? As swim instructors, we’re often asked about the negative and positive outcomes of enrolling in ISR classes. In this blog, we will detail the pros and cons of both methods to help you choose the best path for your child!


With both ISR and swim lessons, your child can start as early as 6 months. ISR, or Infant Survival Rescue, focuses on survival skills in the event that a child accidentally falls in the water. During ISR lessons, the child is led by the instructor who gives cues on how they can rescue themselves by floating, turning, or swimming to the wall. There are obvious pros to this such as teaching children swim survival skills. But in our experience, the cons can outweigh the result.


ISR Pros:

  • Infant or toddler may be able to float on their back or swim to the wall

  • Lessons are always one-on-one

  • Option to have lessons taught while child is fully clothed to simulate unplanned fall

  • ISR method gives parents relief knowing their child may be able to save themselves in the event of falling in water

  • 10-15 min lesson time frame


ISR Cons:

  • Parents can have a false sense of security when their child is around water

  • Child might think they know how to swim or jump into water without knowing proper stroke techniques

  • May cause your child to develop a fear or dislike of the water

  • High volume and consistency of classes to keep skills

  • Child may develop distrust toward future instructors

  • Does not teach proper swim skills, meaning the child is not an effective swimmer


Traditional swim lessons happen in a more positive affirming environment where each student can develop technical and life-saving skills. Though swim lessons aren’t solely focused on emergency situations, the instructor teaches your child valuable skills to both enjoy and survive in the water.


Swim Lesson Pros:

  • Teaches your child to love the water rather than be afraid

  • Water safety and accident prevention included in lessons

  • Teaches students to build physical strength through different strokes and skills

  • Increased confidence in and outside of the pool by building a positive relationship with the instructor

  • Crucial swim skills like breathing, exhaling, floating, gliding, kicking, and more, which are not practiced in ISR

  • Proper technique from the start with individualized attention

  • Allows for steady growth and visible progress

  • Physical exercise and wellness


Swim Lesson Cons:

  • Dependent on the instructor in the beginning

  • Lessons are not taught wearing regular clothing to simulate an accident

  • Lessons are 30 minutes and above which can be tiring for smaller children

  • Can take longer for child to swim independently because they are encouraged to learn at their own pace


Through our research and experience, we’ve found that swim lessons offer students so much more than just life-saving skills. They create a strong foundation of not only swim skills but an understanding of the water and how to safely enjoy it. Plus, we teach our students skills that can be used outside of the pool as well. For example, how having a positive mindset can help achieve goals. Comparing the two methods allows you to see all the additional benefits you receive from enrolling your child in traditional swim lessons. We have seen our students excel again and again because they love swim lessons!