Twenty-four years ago, Deb Rossetti took a friend’s child to a swim lesson. But it was not an ordinary swim lesson. What she saw was an instructor teaching the child a skill called infant swimming resource.
“I was amazed,” Ms. Rossetti recalled. “I was so intrigued — I asked my friends if I could please come back.”
She met with the instructor and asked how she could become involved in the program. A lifelong swimmer, Ms. Rossetti was an ideal candidate. Eight weeks later, she was a certified infant swimming resource instructor. In 2003, she brought the program to Massachusetts.
Now, thanks to parents Emily Reddington and Marty Harris, Ms. Rossetti is bringing the infant swimming resource program to the YMCA.
“I knew about this class before we had the baby,” said Mr. Harris, who now has a nine-month-old son. “We were researching and seeing where the closest place was to take the class . . . and realized there’s no way we could do this off-Island.”
The four-week class teaches children six months to six years old the skills they need to survive should they find themselves accidentally submerged in water.
“We have them understand how on their own they are able to find their air, roll back and float and cry out for help when they need it,” said Ms. Rossetti. “We do teach them a swim skill, but we’ve combined it with a self rescue skill as well, so the child has a comprehensive understanding of ‘this is what I’m supposed to do when I’m in and around the water.’ The way the lessons are set up it conditions the child to behave in a certain way.”
The YMCA, which offers various swim instruction programs for children, was receptive to hosting Ms. Rossetti’s program when they were approached by Mr. Harris and Ms. Reddington. While they don’t usually offer programs from outside of the organization, the class falls in line with the Y’s mission of providing health and prevention programs to the community, membership director Nina Lombardi said.
Ms. Rossetti said she was “thrilled” to have the opportunity to bring the program to the Island, especially because it is surrounded by water.
“The incidence of drowning is just too high,” she said. “Supervision does break down and something has to be in place in case that happens.”
The infant swimming resource class begins May 19. To register, contact Ms. Rossetti at 401-662-0703, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Y’s website (ymcamv.org).