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A decision to float my children…from personal experience…

In the mid 70’s, as a new “first time mom” I was cautioned by my child’s pediatrician to seek some sort of water safety classes for my 13 month old. I went to the local swim program for infants and toddlers. It was a “Mommy and Me” class, emphasizing water adjustment, games, singing and under water swimming, with an attempt to teach breathing. It was great fun. I loved playing in the water with my baby, but by the end of the session I was also, thoroughly frustrated and greatly concerned. Before we started the lessons my son had little of no interest in water, and by the end of the second week he absolutely loved it and headed straight for the pool. I felt as though my well - intentioned desire for his safety had backfired. He was drawn to the water and had no skills, what so ever, from a safety perspective, to handle himself effectively. The problem of water being a danger was compounded. He had learned how to move through the water in a face down position, but at such a young age, teaching him to breath successfully, especially for any length of time or distance, was not working. He had developed a “NO FEAR” attitude, jumped in without hesitation, and someone had to be there to catch him, or he was in BIG trouble! I was extremely frustrated.

Luckily, I found another program that emphasized the back float. It made far more sense to me that he was taught to lay face up in the water, rather than move forward, face down. So, we spent another two weeks learning the back float and rolls and turns to get him into a face up, resting, position on his back. And it worked beautifully. I could put him off the side and he would automatically surface, face up and lay there floating, resting AND breathing. That of course was the most important part. He could come off the side and once he hit the water he knew how to take care of himself. He flipped to his back every time, without any hesitation at all. He didn’t have to rely on me to lift him out of the water for air. I spent the next two summers helping him reinforce this potentially “life-saving” skill.

With the arrival of our second child, I was once again excited about teaching her the back float. Would it work as well again? At 13 months I started helping her develop the ability to get herself onto her back and rest. It was a step-by-step process and gradually she picked it up. I spent no time at all teaching her to swim in a forward, face down position, as I had done with my son. I wanted to reinforce the survival aspect and the ability to rest, as the main priority. So every time she entered water, no matter how she went in, she was shown how to get to her back and lay there until someone picked her up. Once again, it worked perfectly and again, I spent the next two summers, sometimes, calling upon the help of other instructors, perfecting this amazing skill with her.

I was a true believer in the importance of teaching children the back float as a “primary early water experience”. The confidence and skill that my children exhibited in the water far surpassed any of their peers. I began teaching for a local swim school, which emphasized the back float technique. Eventually, I started my own swim school and as I worked with hundreds of infants and toddlers I learned, and continued to perfect and modify the process into what it is today as explained in What is Survival Float. My swim school grew beyond my wildest expectations, lasting ten years, until we moved to the Sacramento Area. I am happy and proud that my daughter Monica, who was proficient in the Survival Back Float in her early beginnings, now joins me in teaching Survival Back Float to little ones in the Sacramento Area.

My grand daughter Scottlynn, who is the star in our Wallypog video, at 10 months, is now six years old. She helps us with demos (just like her mom did some 25 years ago) as we teach the older children to both swim and also become proficient in the water while finding the back float as their “SAFE PLACE” We work together as a team to create an early water experience that is both healthy and rewarding for all. The next generation is already teaching...

I thank all of the “special little people” who taught me so well…to trust in a child’s ability to learn and possibly survive. What a gift I have been given and now continue to pass on. And I thank all of the very dear moms and dads who put their trust in me, as they gently handed their babes over, with a confidence that I would treat them as my own.

CHILDREN’S SAFETY IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ALL

We look forward to working with lots of little ones and their parents,

as we strive to make the world a safer place for all.

© Wallypogs 2010