Words by Anna Lee Vaughn | Images by Justin Hunter
By day, Kristi Turner is a financial specialist for NHS Management of Tuscaloosa, working for multiple NHS locations in Walker and Jefferson counties. By night, she equips babies and young children in Walker County with an imperative skill.
Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in the United States, and children are its most common victim. Infant Swim Resources (ISR) is on a mission to change that. ISR has a mission statement, “Not one more child drowns,” and employs instructors around the nation to teach swim survival to children.
Kristi’s journey with ISR began with her now four-year-old son.
“I have a pool in my backyard and my son loved the water. But he didn’t know how to swim, and he would sink like a rock,” she recalls.
Kristi began searching for swim lessons in the area and stumbled upon the ISR website. Quickly punching in her zip code, she found the nearest instructor in Childersburg, Alabama, and began driving two hours each way five days per week. The trips quickly became exhausting, however, and Kristi had a realization.
“I finally decided, ‘You know what? Jasper could use this,’” says Kristi. “I knew that if I received the training, there were tons of families that could benefit from this.”
Kristi then began the grueling process of becoming an Infant Swimming Resource Instructor, going through three rounds of interviews and an eight-week training program in North Carolina.
Now, Kristi spends each evening teaching children at the Fitness Factory and the Memorial Park Natatorium. She describes her instruction as ‘not your average swim lesson.’ Due to the somewhat intense nature of the lessons, children must be medically cleared by ISR to participate.
Starting with children between six months and six years old, Kristi spends a maximum of ten minutes with each child, five days per week. During this time, the child is fully submerged in the water, learning to hold their breath underwater and breathe while floating. After mastering this skill, the child then completes training sessions not in bathing suits, but in summer and winter clothing.
“We want children to be prepared for any situation. Not just swimming and playing, but surviving in the event of an emergency,” says Kristi.
When a child turns two years old, they begin learning to swim to safety. After training is complete, children continue to maintain their skills through lessons 2-4 times per month.
In June 2023, Kristi will celebrate two years of being an ISR instructor and providing this invaluable resource to Walker County.
“This is truly where my heart is,” says Kristi. WL
For more information, visit infantswim.com or contact Kristi Turner at Kristi.email@example.com.