MILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — You may think it will never happen to you, but according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, a child can drown in the time it takes to answer a phone. That’s why more and more parents are choosing to enroll their kids as young as seven months old in a special kind of swim class.
“They’re leaning in reaching for a toy, or they see a butterfly or reflections of the sun, and they’re drawn to it, so they just kind of lean thinking that they’re safe, and whoop, they fall right in,” said Dena Blum-Rothman, a certified infant aquatics survival instructor from Infant Aquatics CT.
She can’t even walk or talk yet, but thanks to Blum-Rothman, nine-month-old Erin Terry knows how to stay afloat if she ever falls into water.
“I want to make sure that after they fall in, that they’re able to bring themselves up to the surface, roll onto their back, and maintain that float until they’re rescued,” Blum-Rothman explained. “If they can walk, they’re then going to take that to the next stage, where they’re going to be able to turn over and swim to a wall, a ladder, a stair, some form of safety.”
Drowning is a leading cause of death among kids five years and younger, which is why Blum-Rothman says classes like these are critical.
“I get emails every single year, ‘I didn’t even know ‘Johnny’ can open the sliding glass door … Oh, we found the kids floating today. Thank you so much!’” Blum-Rothman recalled. “I had a little boy that had literally just finished his lessons, mom and dad were around the pool, he fell head first into the deep end. Mom and dad didn’t know how to swim. He came right up, floated, swam to the side, didn’t cry. He was perfectly calm, perfectly happy, because we had practiced it so many times before that it was just another day in the pool.
It doesn’t take long for an infant or child to learn these life-saving skills. Classes are just 10 minutes long. Infants meet four days a week for four consecutive weeks and kids from one to four years old meet for six weeks.
Erin’s father Rick Terry says the infant aquatics class has prepared his daughter for just about every possible situation.
“You put her under water down to almost to the bottom of the pool she’ll come right back up,” he explained. “They’ve put her in not just the wetsuit. They’ve done a snowsuit, shorts, jeans, shoes … From start to finish every time she’s been perfect.”
For parents, the classes are peace of mind.
“My husband and I, we see the statistics every year of just these horrible accidents of children drowning in pools and you know or any body of water; I did not want my son to be one of those statistics.” said Sarah McGovern-Luka, whose son is currently taking a class with Blum-Rothman.
“It’s a very good feeling and it’s comforting to know that you know for a couple of seconds they’ll be ok,” said Dennie Donaldson, whose son and daughters are enrolled in a class.
It’s comfort that every mom and dad can appreciate.
“I have people that say, ‘Oh I never take my eyes off my children,’” Blum-Rothman said. “We all do. It’s not bad parenting. It’s life. We blink. We turn our back for a second they’re gone like that, and it doesn’t take very long. It’s one inch between safety and not safety, and we just need to make sure that they can do it for themselves.”
For more information about Blum-Rothman’s swim classes, visit InfantAquaticsCT.com.