Episode 53 of our Child Safety Source interview show is here. Say hello to our latest guest, Natalie Jones Pantaleon.
In each of these episodes, Life Saver Pool Fence’s president, Eric Lupton, takes time to speak with people who are working hard to help keep our children safe. We all know that swimming lessons are important, but many people don’t realize how early we can begin to teach our children this important skill. That’s where Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) and Natalie Jones Pantaleon come in!
Getting to Know Natalie Jones Pantaleon
First, let’s take some time to meet today’s interviewee. Natalie is a certified ISR instructor and a member of Parents Preventing Childhood Drowning. As you’ll learn during the video, she’s been teaching ISR for 11 years. Through this experience, she has instructed many small babies that have grown to be avid snorkelers, surfers, swim team competitors, divers and overall lovers of the water.
To this end, Natalie is committed to seeing the day when drowning ceases to be the leading cause of death for America’s children, aged four and under.
Learn more in our full video interview:
About Parents Preventing Childhood Drowning
As mentioned during her discussion with Eric, Natalie is a member of Parents Preventing Childhood Drowning. This group was formed by several existing nonprofits and individuals who share the common mission of preventing childhood drowning. To that end, the members are parents, family members and friends who are driven to eradicate childhood drowning through education and awareness.
If you’d like to learn more, visit the official website.
Infant Swimming Resource
We mentioned ISR above, but these swim lessons are a fascinating approach to children’s water safety. Basically, a child can be taught some basic survival skills from a much younger age than many parents realize. To learn more about this topic, take a look at this detailed blog post.
Looking for More Child Safety Source Interviews?
If you enjoyed our interview with Natalie Jones Pantaleon, please follow Life Saver Pool Fence on our official Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Additionally, please take a moment to check out our official YouTube channel. There, you’ll find the entire collection of Child Safety Source video interviews and more.
Subscribe to the Podcast!
Would you rather listen to these interviews? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Here are three ways to listen to Child Safety Source on the go!
Below is a direct transcript of the Child Safety Source interview with Natalie Jones Pantaleon from November 19th, 2018:
Eric Lupton: That’s it we are live on the Internet.
Natalie Jones Pantaleon: Awesome.
Eric: Just like that it’s magic.
Natalie: It’s magic. Hi world.
Eric: That’s the world right there like I said of the two people that watch you know live usually it was definitely Robertson. She was good usually and there was Bob Pratt that was good. So I appreciate the people who actually watch it as it’s happening. Everyone watch when live?
Natalie: Yeah when I’m not teaching.
Eric: Right, you’re usually in the water right?
Eric: 9:00 a.m. is like prime water time?
Eric: So when do you start classes usually?
Natalie: 7:40 a.m.
Eric: Why 7:40?
Natalie: Because there are some parents that are sneaking it in on their way to work.Eric: Okay.
Natalie: It’s a really big commitment to swimming lessons every day.
Eric: So why 7:40 and not 7:30 or 7:55?
Natalie: Because it makes a big difference to my brain to not have to be ready at 7:30. 7:40 was actually the latest that I could push it to make it work for this family.
Eric: Okay gotcha so people are on their way to work and they take the kid and drop the kid to day care?
Natalie: Exactly, yeah.
Eric: Okay that makes sense. That’s good. So I’m sure you have a lot of people who want that spot right?
Natalie: Absolutely, on the way to work, on the way home from work it’s a huge market and unmet in my opinion.
Eric: Yeah, so I mean you have a lot of relay. How do you decide who gets the 7:40 spot first-come first-serve?
Natalie: Whoever registers first and I let them know on the very first conversation that if they want to reserve a time the registration has to get completed so that generally it creates a little motivation to get it done, right.
Eric: How far out do people book?
Natalie: I have had people book for like four months out. Some people travel down like when family comes down to the suburbs they will book for the holidays and stuff like that.
Eric: That’s pretty cool so people from north will come down while they’re on their vacation or whatever.
Natalie: They will do like a refresher.
Eric: Probably not the full course they would have to be here for a long time.
Eric: Real estate backwards I guess.
Natalie: Yeah something about grandparents love swimming with their grandchildren. Some people do some refreshers.
Eric: Okay you get a lot of grandparents?
Natalie: I do. I think it’s because I taught at the Pompano Aquatic Center for so long and as I was teaching there were always water aerobics classes going on. So they were like the cheerleaders for these babies. The senior citizens that would come and take the water aerobics classes and then the next thing you know they’re saying oh you’ve got to teach my grandchild.
Eric: That’s really cool. It makes sense we install a lot of pool fences for grandparents too. So it makes sense that it won the [02:50 inaudible] also.
Eric: And we get a lot where the grandparents are making sure their kids do it where the grandparents you know call and like yeah my daughter Julie doesn’t know yet but she’s getting a pool fence.
Eric: Yeah so can you go out and you know get her an estimate.
Natalie: Yeah that’s such a gift. The peace of mind.
Eric: Yeah absolutely. I’m sure you ran into it, something similar somewhere. Not that it is hard just other family members you know hammering and holding.
Natalie: Absolutely, friends and family.
Natalie: Definitely because generally when a parent brings their child to ISR lessons they see the end result the skill, the competence, the confidence they want everyone else that they love to have access to this program too and as many kids as possible to get these lessons.
Eric: So for the four people on earth who don’t know, can you explain what ISR is?
Natalie: Yes ISR is Infant Swimming Resource. We teach–
Eric: Not rescue anymore?
Natalie: Not rescue anymore.
Eric: Right, I was old school. I was rescue.
Eric: I still get it wrong.
Natalie: I remember and we evolve to resource now and we work with children six months and up. Our objective is to teach them the skills that they need so that if they fall in any body of water they’ll be able to save themselves independently. So that’s our focus, survival swimming and babies as young as six months old can learn how to roll over and float and how to respond to any body of water approaching their face by getting into that float and that’s going to give them an opportunity to breathe and rest and to call us so that we can come and help them.
Eric: And a six months old if people haven’t seen the videos can literally roll over and float.
Eric: There is a bunch of videos online of babies doing it. We were just talking about Kerry’s daughter you know
Eric: Jilly, Tony tell me.
Eric: Josie, Thank You. Josie doing it, I think we’re going viral it’s super cool.
Eric: And there’s more you know there was the video one twenty-twenty of the baby doing it.
Natalie: It’s a pretty beautiful thing to see.
Eric: You get a lot of six month olds?
Natalie: Not as many, I would say that the biggest ages around eighteen months.
Natalie: But I love teaching the six-month-old babies too.
Eric: They do well?
Natalie: They do awesome. This is what I’ve seen with the babes that learn how to float first.
Eric: They do better? That is what I was wondering.
Natalie: Well when they learn how to float first. So they’re not yet walking then when it’s time to learn how to swim which is what we teach once they start walking they are swimming like nobody’s business.
Eric: That’s awesome.
Natalie: Literally a week they’ll be swimming and to see you know a little one-year-old swimming to the steps. It’s pretty cool. So I find that they generally take to the swimming really well and I think it’s because they already know how to do the work. They’re you know how to do what’s required to be alive in that environment to have the breath control. They already know how to float. So I think the swimming part is is really the fun part and they just generally take to it really well.
Eric: It’s the locomotion part you know it’s actually going forward which is kind of cool.
Natalie: Yes, which they all seem to be about the locomotion.
Eric: I wonder if, I just had this thought if children have an easier time learning to walk in the pool without you know with the weightlessness.
Natalie: Yeah well that’s an interesting thought. I have seen that babies that start the floating stage. Oftentimes we will start walking in the process of their floating lessons.
Eric: That’s kind of cool.
Natalie: Yeah so I think that there’s definitely a connection there.
Eric: Yeah because obviously I don’t walk on land but I can walk in a pool.
Natalie: You know because it is weightless training.
Natalie: You know if you’re eight months old you’re trying to figure it out you know it might be easier to walk in water than it is on land right and some pools are designed to wear that. They could accommodate that like with the shelves that are in a lot of pools now.
Natalie: They could be holding on to the wall.
Eric: Yeah and I recently learned that there is a lot of studies data about babies progressing cognitively from some lessons.
Natalie: Yes, it’s a beautiful thing.
Eric: Which is really cool.
Natalie: It’s a beautiful thing and it makes sense because if we think about the studies that I’ve seen show that there’s definitely a link to academic success specifically with mathematics and if you think about it we’re teaching these little babies. Yes they are little babies but they’re learning problem-solving. So they’re developing a part of their brain that is going to help them with problem solving later in their life which is not beyond other things.
Eric: Or anything.
Natalie: And they’re also learning at such a young age that they can that can get into a position that allows them to breathe and really connect with their breath that they are going to be able to resolve that situation which is huge to teach a child that.
Eric: Right absolutely.
Natalie: They get to be the answer and that the key to that is is connecting to their breath. So they can then decide what to do from a calm place rather than from feeling panicked like when am I going to get my next breath. So definitely a huge benefit.
Eric: And probably if they started six months old it’s probably the first thing they’ve they’ve done where they were bad at it and then they they saw themselves get better and they progress into competence you know which I think is important for people in general to see yourself go through that arc.
Natalie: I think it’s huge and it’s teaching self-reliance at a very young age.
Natalie: I have seen it might sound unbelievable but I have seen babies that get out of the pool and they look really confident. They look like they know they just did something awesome and that’s a beautiful thing that I think all parents beyond the safety realm want to provide their children with any opportunities to to grow and to feel confident about themselves. Give them those skills.
Eric: And obviously the safety is the most important part that’s why we’re doing it.
Natalie: Obviously, yeah the safety is the most important part and the benefits beyond I mean they it’s really beautiful to see. I’ve had so many parents tell me that the children get this confidence that goes with them well beyond the pull deck.
Eric: That’s really cool.
Natalie: Yeah because I think a part of it is what you’re saying that at such a young age they’re going through a process of going from not knowing anything about being in that environment to being able to handle themselves independently. Of course they’ll always need parental supervision it’s not a substitute for supervision but we know that supervision breaks down. So if they have the skills to handle that situation on their own then I really think that’s the best outcome that we can shoot for ending childhood drowning.
Eric: So again for people who don’t know explain how it works exactly. So they come once a day for ten minutes.
Natalie: Yeah the goal is that they swim Monday through Friday so they would have five lessons per week. They’re super short lessons. They are a maximum of 10 minutes per day and I like to be really clear with my clients that that’s a maximum amount of time and that there may be days that their child doesn’t even require ten minutes because my goal with teaching them is to end on their very best performance and I don’t know when that’s going to happen exactly in the lesson but I do know that if you know Charlie has his first independent float for example and we are three minutes in. I would be a fool to miss out on communicating to that child that what he just did was so amazing and I want to see more of that later and if it happens three minutes in or eight minutes in.
Eric: That is a wrap.
Natalie: That’s exactly right. So I like to make sure that my clients are aware of how the lessons work from that perspective too because they’re so different than the traditional swim lesson structure and then as far as how long it takes in terms of consecutive weeks. It’s really hard to say with any accuracy ISR can be done at the floating stage. They say that it can be about four to six weeks when they are walking and they learn to swim to locate different targets in the water like the steps of the ladder and then when they need to breathe roll over and float and then continue to swim. So they’ll just kind of like a little otter swim float swim as many times as necessary. ISR says that, that can be done in about six to eight weeks is our so said that can be done in about six to eight weeks.
Natalie: I think it really depends a lot on where the child is at. What their prior experience has been. How comfortable they are in the water and the attendance. So I don’t really know how long it’s gonna take and that’s just something that I like to share with my clients on the front end.
Eric: Sure that way they have proper expectations. Do they feel gypped if you have a four-minute class like wait I have six more minutes?
Natalie: If I haven’t done a good job at communicating to them that a four minute lesson is actually a break through something beautiful just happened and it’s not the norm. So that isn’t, that’s a pretty powerful way to reinforce a behavior and it isn’t something that I would use every day but for a huge breakthrough performances most definitely. So yeah generally as long as they understand and I like to work with my clients so that they understand what we’re working on every day because it’s a lot easier to see a child’s progress in the water when you know what to look for. When you know what skill they’re working on and where it is in the big picture process.
Eric: So there’s a plan every day?
Natalie: Mm-hmm but sometimes the kids have a plan too and I go with that.
Eric: That makes sense. So I mean if you’re doing you know six weeks, five a day that’s thirty classes so there’s essentially a a rough agenda for each of those thirty days?
Natalie: So there’s like a path that we follow and then if children have, of course the lessons have to be customized to each child so sometimes we kind of have to go off the path and get creative and see what works for that child but in general and I love the way this works because it really helps young ones learn easily and retain information. We start at the goal and we work backwards and we work in really little pieces and we approximate tiny pieces of progress. So that everything that child is working on has some level of feeling familiar. It’s a lot easier for them to learn when something feels familiar.
So for the first lesson for a swimmer for the first day we’re going to be holding on to the steps and then back it up a little bit and holding on my steps again and then we’ll progress from there in little pieces but everything that that child experiences is going to feel a little bit familiar and that helps them learn and retain the information.
Eric: So does the first lesson start from a float then?
Natalie: It depends on how old the child is. So definitely if they are not yet walking and they are less than one we’ll start with the float.
Natalie: And that will be me holding that baby in the water and just showing that baby how to have its body so that it can maintain that position and reinforcing their breaths too so they get that their breaths or what will keep them above the surface with the ones that are old enough to learn how to swim their final goal is either to be in a float or to get themselves out of the water. So I’ll kind of read the child and see how comfortable they are with the experience so far and if they are are moving and wanting to go then we’ll work on some swimming behaviors. If they’re not yet comfortable then oftentimes we will work with the float because or if they’re older or if they have fears about getting their face wet. I feel like if they know that they have a safe place that they can be in at any moment that that gives them more confidence to explore areas that maybe they’re feeling less secure about. So it really depends on each child.
Eric: Which is cool that it’s custom-tailored.
Eric: The idea of starting with a goal and working your way backwards it’s actually something that I try to do in life a lot. I figure it’s better to start with you know where you’re going and then trying to figure out a way back then you know start from the beginning and try to make your way there. I don’t know it’s just that in life in business it’s worked out better for me to make sure that I’m working my way back from where I’m trying to get to. So it’s neat that it’s part of the ISR curriculum.
Natalie: A big I would say a big pass to the ISR curriculum is to set them up for success. Day one I want my student to experience success multiple times and that’s a beautiful part of how the lessons are designed to work. A lot of people see lessons happening and they think, maybe they think it looks easier maybe they think it looks hard but generally they don’t understand everything that’s behind the lesson and that’s where educating the parents I think really helps change the experience to where it’s super empowering for the child and the parent.
Eric: I know there’s a water safety ideology called they say for three and it’s safe for kids, safer water, safer response and he uses the word kid because he says you know we are all somebody’s kid like we’re all kids in some capacity. So that was that the word he chose for that because anybody could drown. So instead of child he used kid because he wanted to focus on little people but it worked for everything. We talked about him before we started Johnny Johnson came up with the same for three and it’s a neat idea you know the idea it’s kind of like layers of protection essentially but he segments it into three different categories.
So you know say for kid you know training the child safer water, whatever that water is, a boat you know a pool, a lake you know making the water itself the same as can be and then say for response you know CPR you know you know what happened afterwards.
Natalie: I like that a lot. I like keeping things simple and clear.
Eric: Yeah that is good. It makes sense.
Natalie: When we have such an enormous message to get across to so many people I think that’s really smart.
Eric: Yeah saver 3 is neat and they’ve got a whole curriculum to go through that they’ve got a cartoon characters for each area. There’s a starfish and some kind of other fish and you know there’s a coloring book that goes with it. It’s a neat thing.
Natalie: I’ll check it out.
Eric: Yeah saver 3 they’re good people. They’ve been doing it a long time and they’ve kind of they’ve got it down to a science. So I think we got a little mascots they send out for classroom instruction teachers can dress up into the characters and it keeps a lesson. It is like similar to Josh Shudder.
Eric: Because they do the same thing they send their otter, they’ve got a bunch of the otter costumes.
Natalie: Really, I have not seen this as yet.
Eric: Yeah they ships otters out everywhere and people do the presentations like water safety presentations and then they’ve got the coloring book obviously that they do and Josh otter has cool stuff too. You should have all these stuff at your school.
Natalie: I should, absolutely.
Eric: Josh otter have a lot of great stuff. A lot of them do. Josh otter book is really good. Josh otter even has your kids might appreciate this little toy and it’s an otter and when you drop it in the water it flips over on its back and floats.
Eric: Yeah it’s amazing. Its super cool and they’re cute too and they sell little bath toys but they roll over and float.
Natalie: I’m definitely going to check that out. I’ve been using Elmo but otter sounds even cooler
Eric: Does he flip over and float?
Natalie: From a vertical placement he can pop up and float really well. He is really good.
Eric: We want a vertical that is a drowning position we can’t have that.
Natalie: We got to teach him how to get out of it. He’s working Elmo’s working on rolling from the poolside into a float. We are working on it.
Eric: He is on his way there?
Eric: But you had a little otter that just came out with small you know like this had little bath toys but they cool but whatever will you drop in the water they flip over on their back and float. It’s cool.
Natalie: I could just see my pool full of these little otters floating around.
Eric: Yeah they’re adorable they did a good job with little josh otter float toys. They are neat; yeah you got to have this stuff get some literature.
Eric: Why did you decide to be an ISR instructor?
Natalie: Well, actually I want to take it back to how I first found out about ISR I was 16 years old I grew up in South Florida in Deerfield Beach and I went home and I went to my back yard.
Eric: So you’re one of also the seven natives of Florida?
Natalie: Well I was born in California.
Eric: Oh you are not a real native.
Natalie: Yeah I am bicoastal. I can’t claim native status.
Eric: [19:50 inaudible]
Natalie: Yes, definitely so I went to my back yard and I saw this little peanut of a baby swimming between his parents and I was kind of freaked out because I had never seen this before. I saw the cover of Nirvana with the baby and I’m like that’s really cool but to see a tiny little baby swimming back and forth between his parents.
Eric: And you were sixteen?
Natalie: I was sixteen and so I met the parents and became really good friends with the mom actually she became my best friend and she was trained to be an ISR instructor and I moved up to Orlando. She introduced me to her brother, I married him.
Eric: Oh wow are you still married?
Natalie: No but we have two awesome kids together. Now I’m married to another amazing human and as I was so I moved up to Orlando to live with Zack and Lisa is my best friend and she was teaching ISR and I was at UCF studying economics and she hired me every summer to do her phone work to take care of her inquiries to do her scheduling to do like deposit her checks that kind of stuff and then her mother Carmen Edwards was also teaching ISR. She hired me too. So all of my summers of college I was poolside watching hundreds of babies go through this program and I just thought it looked like magic and so fast forward five years I graduated college I was a stockbroker for [21:24 inaudible] and Zach and I decided that we wanted to start our family and so before I even knew that I would be a mom I knew that if I was a mom they would have ISR it is just a given.
Natalie: Yeah and so fortunately there ISR instructor was their grandma and it was a beautiful process and then Zach and I were talking about moving down to South Florida.
Eric: Where were you living then?
Natalie: We were living in Orlando and he had a business opportunity down here.
Eric: Can you be a stockbroker in Orlando?
Natalie: Oh yeah.
Eric: Whenever I think stockbroker I think New York like on Wall Street.
Natalie: I worked for Charles Schwab in a huge call center. There were a lot of those and it was a great experience. I love that company but Zach had a business opportunity down here and I had one day, I had an opportunity to take my son for a refresher with Joann Barnett and as we were there she said I heard you’re moving to South Florida would you be interested in bringing the program down to Broward County.
There’s a huge need and we don’t have anyone teaching down there and when she asked me that I was like really think I could do that because it just looks so magic to me but shortly after she and I talked I decided to go for it. I got certified down in Boynton Beach at the JCC and then I was at that point I was a safe start instructor so I was working on the non-profit side of ISR and then I decided that I wanted to go private and started my business in Palm Beach County. My first year teaching I only had seven students but I was getting calls from Broward like crazy and that was what Joanne and I originally discussed was bringing you to Broward so as soon as I said yes I’ll go to Broward my business blew up. I had like 40 kids on the pool deck throughout the day.
It was huge it was massive and business was really great but I was frustrated because I felt like I was working really long days teaching lots of kids and I was the only one in Broward County and I learned about Facebook and I was getting tagged on drowning articles like on the weekly basis and I just got so frustrated like what I was doing wasn’t even making a dent.
Eric: Right, like you were getting to those like that family and time.
Eric: Perceived its local.
Natalie: Exactly and I was teaching as many hours as I possibly could and so I decided that I needed to start being a part of expanding ISR in Broward County and start recruiting instructors and as instructors came to Broward County I made myself available to help them with their businesses and just be a support system for them and now there’s also been some other instructors trained from Christie Wexler. I don’t train instructors but needless to say the program has grown in Broward County.
Eric: I couldn’t imagine there wasn’t someone there even ten years ago.
Natalie: People had tried right but it didn’t take off.
Eric: It’s such a big area.
Natalie: It’s huge and that was part of my frustration. I was driving from Cooper City I even went down to North Miami. I mean I was all over the place.
Eric: Our most veteran pool fence dealer is in Miami. He does Miami and Broward.
Natalie: Oh yeah.
Eric: In the whole country, the guy who’s been doing it the longest is Bill Loras and he’s in Miami. I believe it’s my theory that he’s installed more pool fences than anyone alive on the planet.
Natalie: Wow I would like to shake his hand.
Eric: Yeah because he’s I mean he’s been doing it consistently. You know probably for a day you know every day for twenty-seven years you know. So I mean he’s had to put in thousands by know you know. So yeah I would imagine that ISR would be big in that area as well you know.
Natalie: It’s growing now it’s interesting because Broward County and Dade County as you know but maybe all you all don’t know that they generally take turns being the leading County for pediatric drownings on an annual basis. So it definitely seems like ISR belongs or people in Miami need access to this. I don’t know what the challenges with growing it there. I think it’s been something that’s kind of moved down slowly from Orlando and it just needs a little bit more time to cultivate in Miami.
Eric: There’s definitely a need though. A lot of pools, a lot of water, lots of babies’ born every single day. People who theoretically should have been able to afford it you know and have got the scholarships obviously.
Natalie: Absolutely, absolutely.
Eric: Do you have your live like Jake shirt on?
Natalie: I have a live like Jake shirt on.
Natalie: I love live like Jake, I love Carrie Morrison.
Eric: That is awesome. Was that the first time I met you? It was at her thing?
Natalie: Yes I was so excited I completely dorked out.
Eric: That is funny. I think you did.
Natalie: I did, I completely did. I told my kids about it and they were like oh mom.
Eric: Which anyone dorking out over me is ridiculous just so you know like the only reason I know that is because you messaged me and you’re like I’m so sorry. I didn’t even notice. You could have gotten away with it. I never really noticed.
Natalie: Well yeah I’ve been wanting to meet you for a while because I see what you’re doing in the community and I feel like we’re on the same mission and I love how you’re out there raising awareness. I refer all of my clients to your company.
Eric: Thank you.
Natalie: More importantly I feel like you’re out there really doing everything you can to raise awareness in the community. So we’re partners.
Eric: Yeah, absolutely and we talked a little bit about that you know the you were saying that I agree that the key to making an impact on this is you know partnerships right it’s doing this together. I mean it’s too big of a problem for any one human. I was talking about this recently with somebody who was starting up a non-profit and she said that she had the same thought that I think a lot of people have is oh this is so obvious like I’m going to fix this. So I’m going to start my non-profit and we’re going to you know wrap this thing up. We’re going to solve things and she quickly figured out that that’s not as easy as it sounds you know because it seems so oh like this is a problem people need to know and we’ll fix this thing and you know we will fix this thing in six months we will be good.
Eric: But you find out real quick that it’s a much larger beast to wrestle.
Natalie: Yes and I’m really glad to hear that there’s more of an awareness around working together because I realized it’s super fast but I wasn’t going to make much of a difference on my own and even partnering with an ISR is fabulous but I see opportunity for partnerships way beyond our individual organizations not only limited to aquatics but partnering with pediatricians, partnering with companies like yours, partnering with parents in the community that’s the only way that we’re going to end childhood drowning and we all just need to like get on board right now because I know so many people that are passionate about it. They want to see this happen and they’re racking their brain too like what’s it going to take. I believe what it’s going to take is for everyone who says that they want to see childhood drowning to start to look at each other see what they’re all offering and see how we can collectively come together and be stronger together.
Eric: And we talked about you know there’s been a few different you know group organizations that I’ve started. We talked LPBCD the parents preventing childhood drowning which is brand-new, which is really cool.
Natalie: Yes they definitely get it. They definitely get that there’s strength in numbers and that they are going to be able to accomplish it together and I love seeing this. I don’t even know 14, 17 different organizations that are a part of that non-profit.
Eric: That’s awesome and then we talked a little bit about the national drowning prevention alliance which is literally an alliance. It’s an umbrella organization for other organizations to you know be a part of. You know their whole thing is bringing people together to you know work on the problem of water safety together. Have you been to their conference?
Natalie: I have not.
Eric: I’m going to be technically speaking; I’ve spoken at it before it’s in New Orleans this year but this year instead of actually going up and giving a presentation which is what I’ve done in the past. This year I’m going to do this podcast this show live on stage in one of their rooms.
Natalie: Wow cool.
Eric: I’m just going to do this you know at the EPA conference. So I am kind of stoked about it.
Natalie: Are you just going to have like schedule multiple.
Eric: I am going to schedule just one guest.
Natalie: One guest?
Eric: One person for 45 minutes you know because that’s my spot. I have a 45 minute session.
Natalie: Do you already know who it will be?
Eric: I’ve no idea.
Natalie: Okay cool.
Eric: I’m hoping the NDPA would give me somebody, you know somebody they want to highlight or maybe you know Melissa the president maybe Jay was already on. She could do it again or the executive director Adam [30:58 inaudible] who I use to work with when I was on the board there. He might do it you know maybe I don’t know and then it is kind of a neat thing and as for me I don’t have to prepare talk.
Natalie: And you’ll be able to do it live like you are?
Eric: Yeah I just need a phone and a tripod and yeah I’ll be good to go.
Natalie: So that’s going to give a lot of people access to this information that would not be available?
Eric: It’ll probably let a lot of people know about the NDPA also. You know because our audience is pretty broad. So you know I’m hoping it’ll bring a lot of attention to the National Growing French Alliance but the other one we were talking about is families United to prevent drowning and that is an organization of people and organizations who have had a drowning fatality.
One of the toughest and most powerful things that I used to do every year on the board of the NDPA is at the conference. They would have a hotel suite that they would rent at the conference so that if any person who was a member was feeling overwhelmed or there was a talk going on that they didn’t want to be a part of you know they do a lot of like medical stuff and like you know paramedics will talk about you know what it’s like medically for a kid to drown or it can be an emotional thing if you had the experience of drowning. So they had this hospitality suite that was available and so I just wanted to go and hang out chill out get away from everybody.
So they were kind enough that they would host the NDPA board for one night of the conference they had like a cocktail hour thing. They had herbs but they would go around the room and they would each tell their story of what happened to their child or their sibling and there’s probably twenty of them you know so they just go one at a time and go around the room and hear them back-to-back like that in the same room and you know if that doesn’t have an effect on what you’re doing. I mean nothing will, it’s profound you know and that’s just a tiny piece of all of the people who have been affected.
These are just the ones who have decided to start a non-profit and be a part of that particular group and they keep getting new members which are terrible. They say that they’re a club and they love each other but they hope no one else joins.
Natalie: The club that no one wants to join.
Eric: Yeah but that is the other organization when you’re talking about organizations combining water safety USA it’s kind of neat they pick one message a year and then they as a group and then they kind of distribute it out amongst themselves. So I think last year it was that I think it was swim instruction teach your child to swim essentially but that’s the Parks of Recreation Department, the Boy Scouts of America, the Safety Commission, the Red Cross. That’s they are combining together into one banner what they call water safety USA.
Natalie: That should be pretty powerful.
Eric: It is, it’s cool but their idea was that they’re going to talk about water safety they should all be on one message that was important too so I like these kind of different groups combining together because I think that’s important.
Natalie: Absolutely, we have to do something different.
Eric: Yeah absolutely you know I’ve been doing this 30 years and drowning is still the number one accidental killer of kids between one and four you know so obviously something’s not working. That’s the only way to put it right.
Natalie: Yeah and I have had the experience of seeing how easily drowning can happen with my own child and my firstborn was 18 months old and he was taking ISR lessons and he did not like them yet. So I had this bubble of it’s not gonna happen to me. He doesn’t even want to go near the pool and I was actually in the pool taking care of a six-year-old and my son was on the pool deck behind me like a good 20 feet away from the pool, playing in his little area and I had my head turned away from my son and I was talking to this little six-year-old and I thank God every day that I looked over and I saw my 18 month old baby completely submerged with just his fingertips out. Now he had not finished his ISR lessons he was fully clothed and he certainly wasn’t at a place where he could save himself but fortunately he had really good breath control from his experience so far.
Eric: From ISR so far.
Natalie: Yeah from ISR so far, so I when I saw him I just pulled him out of the water and he was fine and I thank God he was fine and that I saw him because if I hadn’t seen him he would have drowned five feet away from me in the water.
Eric: You have read about them.
Natalie: Yes I’ve read many stories about that and heard many parents who’ve shared those stories and for a long time I didn’t share this story because I was so ashamed that I had let that happen to my child. I told like that day I told the people that needed to know but for years I didn’t share this and even when I became an ISR instructor for years I didn’t share this because I just had a lot of shame around how did I let that even happen but then I realized that I need to start sharing this because what I learned from that experience first of all is that drowning is often silent and I’ve heard many interviews on the news where families have lost their child to a drowning accident and I feel like the first thing I hear them say is I didn’t hear anything.
Eric: It is not the Baywatch drowning.
Natalie: It is not the Baywatch drowning, there’s no splash, there’s no mama.
There’s no help it’s not that dramatic movie scene that it’s portrayed to be in the movies and so I realized that by me not sharing this that I was keeping a pretty vital piece of information to myself and it was hard at first to start telling people about it but now I feel like I had that experience unfortunately he was okay and the least I can do now is share this with other parents so that they don’t have that bubble. That’s not gonna happen to and that they know that it’s not a question of good parenting or bad parenting. It’s that kids are they’re curious and they’re persistent and they’re brilliant and if they want something they’re going to go for it and kids are attracted to the water and for me it’s not a question of if they get in the water alone. It is when they get in the water alone are we going to have an experience that is empowering or are we going to have an experience that’s tragic.
Eric: Right and that’s a great way of putting it because you know not only are they a brilliant and adapt to it but they evolve quick you know one day a kid can’t open a doorknob but then they can.
Natalie: That’s true just like that you know like I’ve heard too many stories where I didn’t know she could open the back door and then she didn’t send us a memo. Hey I can open the back door now.
Natalie: You don’t know until you know right.
Eric: She probably figured it out and yes you don’t know what your child is going to figure out how fast and you know that’s why we recommend all the various protection.
Natalie: Absolutely, absolutely.
Eric: And you said you yourself have had drowning experiences.
Natalie: I have been rescued from drowning in open water three times in my life, twice under the age of five. The first time I was 2 years old and I was living down in Pompano Beach and we went out on the boat all the time and I had no idea how good life was. They had this beautiful boat and there were always lots of people on it. I thought that we were just having like these parties all the time. Well I learned later that my uncle was chartering his big beautiful boat. So these were just all my friend’s right and it was a normal thing for us to go out on the boat.
This is like late 70’s and my dad took me off the boat and he sat me down on the patio and he said stay here while I go get your sister and then he said fortunately he did hear something. He heard the splash of me jumping off the dock into the canal at nighttime and the poor guy. I know he’s still traumatized from this because he jumped in the water. He couldn’t see anything so he said he was just like using his arms to feel and coming up with vegetation and he was panicking and then he found me and I was just like frozen in the water and he brought me out of the water.
It must not have been that long because I didn’t take in water right and again it was back in the late 70’s. So there was no ambulance called or anything like that. I called a cell phone yeah but I’m pretty sure that there was no brain damage because I did graduate college so I feel pretty good about that but we lived one house from the inter-coastal. So it was a really scary experience for him and then again when I was five we were out in Catalina island in California and we were on these paddle boards not like today’s paddle boards but more like a piece of wood that one person sat on one side and the other person sat on the other and then there was like bicycle pedals yeah kind of like a seesaw on the water and somehow I went off one end and under a dock.
Natalie: So I had to be rescued from that experience it wasn’t until I was twenty-one though that I experienced what we call learn helplessness and that’s when you’re in a situation at a young age or in a situation and you don’t have to do anything to be a part of the solution. It’s like these magic hands just come in and rescue you and in that situation you learn just wait and someone will fix this for you. So I’m twenty-one swimming out to in the Bahamas with Zach and Lisa living it up before kids and they say let’s swim out to the buoy like okay. You know I was not sporty; I’m more of a lounger. I don’t have a background in swimming but I decided to do it with them and I was having a hard time getting back to the shore. They were already on the shore and I don’t know if it was a rip or what but I just remember my efforts weren’t progressing and I remember mentally being like well this is it and giving up and then my husband saw me and he ran out and rescued me and brought me and brought me to shore but that was when I learned actually looking back after I trained with ISR and we were learning about helplessness. I wish I would have known that I could have rolled over to float in any of those situations.
Eric: You could have floated and waited.
Natalie: Could have floated and waited for sure for as long and I would have loved it. I’d love to float because I like to lounge.
Eric: Who doesn’t like to lounge?
Natalie: Right, some people. Some people they are not in their place.
Eric: Evil, ISIS, terrible, I don’t believe it.
Natalie: Now I know that learned helplessness is a real thing and that is why when after our students are skilled. I will get the parents in the water and teach them how to practice so they feel really confident knowing that they are keeping it consistent. They are not going to undo anything and I’ll tell them if they if they fall in give them a few seconds to see once they’re skilled to see what they’re gonna do. Give them an opportunity to do something even if it’s just starting to rollover. They don’t have to even necessarily complete a performance but if we take a child who is doing nothing in that situation and we pick them up which parents do this a lot not realizing that they’re inadvertently shaping a behavior which I didn’t know before either guys. I didn’t know but we teach them if you get into the situation just wait and someone will fix that for you.
Eric: I’ve never before now heard that term learned helplessness. Is that common? I mean I guess it has to be right.
Natalie: I guess it depends on how I would imagine so.
Eric: I think I know adults who have learned helplessness.
Natalie: The last time I experienced I was 21 so I guess and who knows if I would now get into my float like that.
Eric: Right yeah.
Natalie: Now I like to float.
Eric: You’re good floater?
Natalie: I’m a professional. I could win the floatathon.
Eric: You’re literally a professional.
Natalie: Yes, I literally am.
Eric: There is this Nathan, I don’t want to say his last name wrong social special it’s like c-s-o-c-h. He was on the podcast and he did a treadathon.
Eric: He did a 24-hour in the ocean treading water.
Natalie: Oh my goodness, that’s the opposite of what I wanted.
Eric: To raise money for education for water safety.
Natalie: That’s great.
Eric: Yeah he does a lot of international water safety work but yeah he did eight threadathon for 24 hours in the ocean and it looked terrible like I was watching it like that it’s not looking like a good time.
Natalie: I’m thinking 24 seconds maybe.
Eric: A floatathon would have been better, just hanging out floating.
Natalie: Yeah there could be accommodations made too.
Eric: Yeah right with beverages like a really good thing you know.
Natalie: So what is your best water safety tip? I’ve shared it and it is that drowning a silent, don’t believe it’s not going to happen to you and then I sneak in another one and that is okay.
Eric: Go for it.
Natalie: Avoid using floatation unless you’re on a boat and it’s a lifeguard approved jacket. Floatation teaches the wrong information I don’t know if it’s considered bold but I’m going to say that it teaches a drowning posture because teachers kids that they should try to have their face out of the water and without the flotation that’s not going to work. Their body weight when they’re like this, their body weight is going to pull them down. So why struggle when you can just float and the floatation really make it difficult for children to learn the proper skills too. So I would just say avoid and while I know it’s cute to have your baby floating around experiencing some independence but it’s just really not age-appropriate.
Eric: Yeah especially you know we’ve heard plenty of stories where kids have water wings on they took him off or parents to come off and then they went back in the pool and they got rescued or they didn’t and those are terrible.
You got a kid who thinks they can swim and you have a parent who probably thinks they’re doing the right thing right and this is not a judgment thing at all any day. I don’t have any judgment towards any parents.
Natalie: This is what how a lot of us learned how to swim. It is what our parents did, didn’t think anything about it. I didn’t think anything about it either until I had the information. It is the water equivalent of training wheels you think right. You start with this and then you move on. So it makes sense logically if you don’t know. If you don’t have the proper education that you can almost justify it.
Eric: You give a little help until they figure it out but you’re right I think it reinforces bad behaviours. It gives a legitimate false sense of security so I’m not a fan of that term in general because my pool fence has been accused of being a false sense of security but that, I think that’s a real one when kids think they can swim and they can’t.
Eric: So they lose their fear of the water but they don’t have the skills to back it up.
Natalie: That’s a dangerous combo.
Eric: It is yeah my mom used to say a little bit of knowledge is dangerous you know if you know a little bit but not enough to actually do something you know. That’s worse than knowing nothing.
Natalie: Yeah so we have a different approach with ISAR where we say let’s get him skilled and then the confidence will come and then the joy is inevitable. Instead of and what I would say to some of my clients is I’m not gonna put my kids toys out in the middle of the street and let him go play there.
Natalie: So why am I not attractive to a potentially deadly environment before giving them the skills to handle?
Eric: Statistically more deadly than the street and it is in your back yard all the time. The pool is not going anywhere.
Eric: It is always there. What’s your favorite part about teaching?
Natalie: I love watching of course that the babies are safe but to see them go from really not knowing anything about how to handle themselves in that environment to being independent and having the confidence where again to see a baby know that she just did something really awesome. I love that and I love hearing that they take that confidence with them well beyond the pool deck.
Eric: That is pretty cool.
Eric: You asked me to ask you if you win the lotto would you keep teaching.
Eric: Yeah that’s cool.
Natalie: I would do [48:43 inaudible] like Jake.
Eric: That would be awesome.
Natalie: Definitely not full-time.
Eric: Yeah maybe like three days a week or something.
Natalie: Well you have to do five days but I will pick my best hour.
Eric: I do nine to eleven and that is it, that could work maybe you could travel.
Natalie: I love that idea.
Eric: You could go to Wisconsin or you know somewhere prettier for a week.
Natalie: To go see Michael Petrella n Michigan.
Eric: Yeah or California when he’s out there being a rockstar.
Natalie: Yes. California.
Eric: Do you have people out there?
Natalie: I still have family in California. My mom lives in Atascadero which is by Morro Bay, central coastal and sister and her family in Atascadero.
Eric: Very cool, we have a lot of points and stuff out there.
Natalie: I love California.
Eric: It’s cool.
Natalie: It’s gorgeous I love like Northern California.
Eric: I’ve never been in Northern California.
Natalie: Oh it is so beautiful.
Eric: I’ve done Los Angeles at Long Beach. We used to go to Long Beach once a year for a conference and I use to stand the Queen Mary which is kind of cool but I’ve never made it up to the northern half yet.
Natalie: If you ever get a chance, it’s gorgeous. Even just riding along the Pacific Coast Highway and seeing those beautiful cliffs with the ocean in the backdrop and then the massive redwoods.
Eric: I really hate the cold and I always think of the Mark Twain quote you know. It’s the worst winter I ever experienced for the summer in San Francisco.
Natalie: Actually I’ve heard that one.
Eric: Yeah I think it’s Mark Twain. I think everyone chooses Mark Twain but the worst winter I ever experienced was a summer in San Francisco.
Eric: Yeah that’s what he said and that makes me scared to go there.
Natalie: Well the ocean is freezing no matter when you go it is cold all the time, brain freeze.
Eric: It’s not like here where it’s warm sometimes.
Natalie: No it’s not perfect like it is here. It is perfect here, especially right now.
Eric: It is very nice right now until it gets cold in this case I was not happy and cold for me is like sixty.
Natalie: Yeah that’s how it is for us Floridians.
Eric: Yeah below 60 is too much.
Natalie: We had a cold front last week and I I slept in and missed it.
Eric: I have a rule that I don’t complain about the heat because I know I wouldn’t complain about the cold, I don’t like to complain all year so I like to pick one because I know I’m going to talk constantly about how cold it is and just be miserable. So I try really hard not to ever bitch about how hot it is because I’m definitely going to complain about how cold it is.
Natalie: And that makes sense because you know if you’re going to pick one pick the shorter one right.
Eric: There’s that too and the one I just can’t stand at all. You also want me to ask you what your favorite music was.
Natalie: Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Natalie: It just gets everybody in the right state of mind.
Eric: That’s a good call.
Natalie: Thank you.
Eric: Yeah I like that, that’s really good.
Natalie: The only thing about it is it’s starting to have a little bit of a groundhog effect on me. Remember that movie Groundhog Day?
Eric: Where it was just the same every day?
Natalie: Yeah where the alarm goes off and it’s the same song every day you started to have the same like flashbacks of prior lessons. I’m like it’s time to work, it is time to make the donuts when Bob Marley comes on it is time to make the donuts.
Eric: You can never listen to it recreationally now.
Natalie: No I can’t it’s burnt out and maybe like a little peppered in here and there and you know there are the rarities you know that stuff.
Eric: I have seen the wailers a couple times and I’ve seen his kids so much time Ziggy and you know they come they come around a lot.
Natalie: I think there’s going to be a show pretty soon. One of the kids.
Eric: One of the sons, he has got like thirty of them so they travel a lot.
Natalie: It’s all good to me.
Eric: They are very good and I was with my brother actually [52:42inaudible] which are kind of similar but that is the perfect ISR music. It makes sense.
Natalie: It works.
Eric: I wonder if the kids when they hear repetitively if they, can I have the same thing where it kicks in like oh this is ISR time because the music you know.
Natalie: Maybe and I do have a set list from Spotify that I listen and it starts at the same time and day. So my students will hear their song.
Eric: That’s funny.
Natalie: You know they’re not going to hear could you be loved at 7:40 in the morning. They’re hearing we’re jamming.
Eric: That is pretty cool.
Natalie: So they may have a little association and groundhog effect too but I hope that it’s all good.
Eric: That might be helping them yeah you know and maybe later in life, they like swim better.
Natalie: I think so.
Eric: Is there anything you want people to know in general as we wrap up here?
Natalie: Yeah I just want everyone to be aware and you know don’t think it’s not going to happen to you, don’t fall for the bubble of it’s not going to happen to you and anything that you can do to keep your child safe around the water let’s do it. If I can be of any support please reach out to me.
Eric: How can people find you?
Natalie: You can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.amazingswimmers.com. You can find your closes ISR instructor at infantswim.com and please know about live like jake there are scholarships available so cost is no longer a barrier we just want to get your kids skilled and safe as soon as possible.
Eric: Perfect well thank you so much.
Natalie: Thank you. It has been a pleasure.
Eric: It was a lot of fun.
Natalie: Thank you.