Water survival classes teach Valley kids how to avoid life-threatening situations

We remind you all the time to watch kids around water, but nearly 90 percent of young, drowning victims were under some sort of supervision at the time of the incident.

Now, Valley parents are thinking beyond pool fences and locks, and taking water safety to new depths because these dangerous situations can develop in seconds.

"We were all in the pool. My older son went into the house to use the restroom," Sarah Erickson remembered. "When I turned back around, I said, 'Guys, where's Nate?'"

The terrifying incident happened in a backyard in Chandler one month ago with her 3-year-old son.

"I just dove to the bottom of the pool. I lifted him up. He was purple and lifeless like a noodle," Sarah described.

Fire department: What's your emergency?
Sarah: A boy was in the pool
Fire department: Is he out of the pool?
Sarah: He is... Tell us what to do!
Fire department: Ok, I've got help on the way.

"I pounded on his back, I put his head up, started doing chest compressions," Sarah said.

Fire department: Is he breathing at all?
Sarah: He just vomited, yes.
Fire department: Was he at the top or the bottom of the pool?
Sarah: He was at the bottom
Sarah: Ok, he's crying, he's crying
Fire department: Keep him on his side
Sarah: Can I hold him?

Fire department: Yes, you can hold him.

By the time paramedics arrived, Nate was breathing on his own.

"When we were in the hospital it was really, really emotional. I knew that he was going to be ok. He took a little rest at the hospital and while he was napping he was having little nightmares and terrors, and I kept whispering in his ear, 'Mommy's here. It's ok. I'm here. I'm here,'" said Sarah.

And in that moment, Sarah swore she would do everything in her power to keep her son safe.

"There are pool fences, locks on doors, all kinds of precautions and barriers you can take, but you can't control everything around you," she said.

But what she can control is giving Nate the skills to save himself. 

Infant Swimming Resource isn't your average swimming lesson, not even close. In fact, even a 2-year-old can swim out of her instructor's arms, and then naturally flip over onto her back for air. 

She can do it and so can every little one who swims in ISR Instruction at Therace Pollard's pool.

"A lot of parents have come to me and they're like, 'Therace, I had my child in swim lessons, and they're swimming, but they're not understanding what to do if they need help,'" Therace explained.

Teaching those survival skills is exactly what ISR promises to do.

These little ones not only learn to hold their breath, kick their feet and swim across the pool, but they're also shown how to rotate and float in the water.

"ISR teaches them to be able to hold their float and rest and breathe and relax," Therace explained.

She says kids from 6 years old to just 6 months old are trainable.

Therace says in a matter of weeks, if 10-month-old student Lauren were to fall in the water, "She'd be able to hold her breath, rotate into the float posture and continue holding that float until help arrives."

After these babies learn the basics, Therace starts testing their survival skills. She unexpectedly flips another student, 3-year-old Liam, underwater, and he recovers without panicking.

"If they're not scared, they have the skills to help themselves if they need to," Therace said.

Skills that have already become second nature for Lauren. Lower her into the water and, suddenly, she assumes the proper floating position.

And Nate has also learned the skills he needs to stay safe. After just four weeks of ISR training, he has turned fear into confidence.

"He's holding his float now, he's resting, he understands that's a safe place to be," Therace said.

A safe place, exactly as his mom promised, when she realized her baby had been given a second chance at life.

"It's indescribable to know that there's a chance he wouldn't be here," Sarah said. "It kind of sheds a whole new light on him and our life with him. He makes our family complete."

The one-on-one lessons last for four to six weeks during the summer. The average cost per child is $400.

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