Safe Start Survival Swim Lessons

Safe Start Survival Swim Lessons


With Florida leading the nation in the number of childhood drownings deaths, the Y of Central Florida proudly partners with Dr. Phillips Charities in presenting Safe Start, a groundbreaking infant water survival program. 

Since 1999, more than 13,400 local children have learned how to be safe, secure and confident around water thanks to Safe Start.

Even babies as young as 6 months can learn Safe Start techniques, including how to hold their breath under water, turn onto their backs, and float unassisted should they accidently fall into a pool.

Children 1 to 6 years old are taught to expand this into a swim-float-swim sequence – learning how to hold their breath underwater, swim with their head down, roll onto their back to float, rest, breathe, and roll back over to continue swimming until they reach the side of the pool, can crawl out of the water or be rescued by an adult.

Children also learn how to master Safe Start Survival Skills, first in a bathing suit, then fully clothed, because most water accidents happen when children are in clothes.



Safe Start lessons focus on safe, one-on-one training by Safe Start/ISR certified Instructors who customize the program to the abilities of each student. Safe Start and ISR are the leading behavioral-based approach to swimming lessons, using techniques that are developmentally appropriate for your child.

  • Every day, at least 55 children in the U.S. reach the water unsupervised and end up in a potential drowning situation.
  • Of all children who drown, 63% are of ages 4 years and under.
    Drowning can occur in as little as 1 inch of water.
  • A child will lose consciousness approximately 2 minutes after submersion. Irreversible brain damage occurs after 4-6 minutes.
  • Watching your children is not enough to protect them from every hazardous water situation. Teaching children survival swimming skills provides an extra layer of protection.
  • Learning to roll onto their backs and float unassisted is crucial for survival. There are over 800 documented cases of students saving themselves using their Safe Start/ISR Self-Rescue skills.
  • ISR has a worldwide network of certified Instructors and has delivered more than 7 million safe lessons.


Safe Start and ISR are recognized as the world’s safest provider of survival swimming lessons for children 6 months to 6 years of age. ISR designed its proprietary methodology for you: parents who are dedicated to their child’s safety, education, and developmental needs. We have invested 45 years in your child’s ability to play safely in and around the water – because we recognize that parents need their children to feel comfortable around the water – while lowering the risk of drowning. With a focus on safe, customized, one-on-one training delivered exclusively by certified Instructors, Safe Starts Survival lessons emphasize health, continuous program evaluations, and parent education unlike any other swim instruction program. Financial Assistance is available for those in need.




Founded by Harvey Barnett, Ph.D. in 1966, ISR endeavored to put an end to a preventable tragedy… childhood drowning. Barnett witnessed the aftermath of this tragedy after a neighbor’s 9-month-old son reached the water alone. From that point on, Barnett vowed to do everything possible to ensure that Not One More Child Drowns. A behavioral scientist by trade, Barnett adapted his theoretical knowledge of learning to pioneer ISR’s Self-Rescue™ method, which is used today to teach infants and young children to save themselves should they reach the water alone. Fortunately, what began as one man’s mission has transformed into a worldwide organization that is continually making large strides toward the day that Not One More Child Drowns. To date, ISR has more than 800 documented cases of children using ISR’s survival swimming techniques to save themselves from drowning.

At Safe Start, your child’s safety is our first priority. Each survival swimming lesson is uniquely tailored to your child’s needs based on a comprehensive assessment and continual monitoring of your child’s health and skill attainment. We understand that every child learns at his or her own pace, and accordingly, your child will be gently guided through each skill level based on his or her level of development and readiness.

  • Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children between the ages of 1 and 4
  • 88% of young drowning victims were under some form of supervision at the time of the incident
  • Maintain constant, eyes-on, uninterrupted supervision
  • Never leave a child alone near any body of water, not even for a second
  • Install permanent four-sided fencing that encloses the entire pool area with a self-closing, self-locking gate
  • Install high locks and alarms on ALL doors and windows that lead to the pool, including utility and pet doors


Every Safe Start/ISR Instructor worldwide completes an 8-week intensive academic and in-water training program before they are certified to offer Safe Start Survival Swim program. Once certified, Safe Start Instructors are recognized as highly skilled, precise aquatic behavior specialists, who understand the unique cognitive, intellectual, and physical development dynamics of young children. Understanding the behaviors of children in the water allows each Instructor to respond with ISR’s proprietary technique, and provide the safest and most effective lesson for each child.


It only takes a few minutes for a child to drown or sustain serious, life-altering injuries. Children, as young as 6 months of age, can learn to save themselves in a drowning situation by using ISR’s Self-Rescue technique. Before your baby can feel confident and safely enjoy the water, he or she must first learn the skills needed for survival. Unlike other swimming programs, Safe Start combines safe swimming lessons with lifesaving skills that teach your child to survive in the water.

It’s a familiar story that most of us have heard or read about: A toddler somehow slips away from his parent’s watchful eye. Nobody notices the child wandering to the edge of the water, and we all know the ending… Or do we?

Toddlers, even babies, can learn how to save themselves from an unexpected water encounter. Imagine: a baby who falls in the water and doesn’t drown. Safe Start and Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) are the safest providers of survival swimming lessons that are proven to save lives.