A mother from Colorado is defending infant swim lessons this week after a video of her 8-month-old son being thrown into the pool by his swim instructor went viral.
Krysta Meyer, whose 8-month-old son, Oliver is in an Infant Survival class at Little Fins Swim School in Colorado Springs, posted a video on TikTok that has since stirred a lot of controversy.
The clip, which has been viewed over 53 million times on TikTok, shows Oliver’s swim instructor tossing him into the pool, then climbing in to guide him as he floats to the surface. After navigating the water for just a second, Oliver resurfaces before flipping onto his back so he can breathe and continue floating.
@mom.of.2.boyssOliver amazes me every week! I can’t believe he is barely 2 months in and is catching on so fast. He is a little fish. ##baby ##swim
“Oliver amazes me every week!” Meyer captioned the now-viral video. “I can’t believe he is barely 2 months in [to swimming lessons] and is catching on so fast. He is a little fish.”
Alarmed by the video, many commenters reacted with anger and accusations. Some people were so upset that Meyer has even received death threats.
The 27-year-old mother of two says she understands why people are bothered by the video when seeing it out of context, but feels the method is appropriate in the context in which it was done.
“I get it, it looks bad. It’s not for everyone,” Meyer told Motherly, adding that any buzz that gets parents talking about children and water safety could save lives.
It’s also important to know that the swim lessons Oliver participates in are specifically designed for Infant Survival, not to be confused with Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) lessons, which does not involve throwing a baby into pools.
“Your baby will never be thrown into the water,” the ISR website states in several places.
Little Fins co-owner, Lauri Armstrong, says the purpose behind these survival swim classes like the one Oliver participates in, is purely safety. “We teach 8-month-olds to assess their situation and find an exit strategy [in water],” she told Buzzfeed News. “I know it seems crazy.”
The goal is not to teach the infants how to swim, but to get them comfortable in water, to learn how to recover and flip over if they fall in, and to float on their backs. Armstrong also noted that the toss is not something that happens in the first lesson, and like anything, infants have to learn
Drowning is the number one cause of death in children ages 1-4 years old.
According to SafeKids Worldwide, nearly 800 children die every year by accidental drowning—more than half of which are under the age of 5.
New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children should learn to swim at the age of 1.
“Research has found that swim lessons are beneficial for children starting around age 1, and may lower drowning rates”, said Dr. Linda Quan, a co-author of the policy statement.
“Learning to swim is a great family activity,” she says. “Families can talk with their pediatrician about whether their child is developmentally ready for swim lessons, and then look for a program that has experienced, well-trained instructors. Ideally, programs should teach ‘water competency’ too — the ability to get out of the water if your child ends up in the water unexpectedly.”
Of course, even the best swim lessons cannot “drown-proof” a child. The AAP recommends parents take steps to make a child’s environment safer — especially around any sort of water, from swimming pools to bathtubs, as a toddler can drown in less than a minute.
Meyer says that putting both of her sons in swimming lessons at a very young age has given her a “peace of mind” that her children are safer around water.