It’s officially summer, otherwise known as pool season! If you’re fortunate enough to have access to your own pool, a friend’s pool or your local public pool (if it has re-opened after having been shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic), you’re probably thinking about your kid’s swimming abilities, especially given that most lessons are cancelled.
Maybe that’s why a short video of what we can only describe as an untraditional baby swimming lesson is quickly making the rounds on the internet.
The clip, which was originally shared on TikTok by mom-of-two Krysta Meyer, shows part of an infant swimming class in which her younger son, a baby named Oliver, gets thrown into a pool by an instructor before eventually floating to the surface, safe and sound. Have a look—but be warned, the video may be shocking to some, so consider this your warning.
@mom.of.2.boyssOliver amazes me every week! I can’t believe he is barely 2 months in and is catching on so fast. He is a little fish. ##baby ##swim original sound – mom.of.2.boyss
Since its posting, the video has garnered a whopping 43 million views on TikTok as well as another 15 million views on Twitter. This isn’t a first for Meyer, though. She had shared a similar video earlier this year showing an old clip of her son Jayce getting dunked the same way, and it also went viral, with almost seven million views. Many people seemed appalled by the clip.
But should they be? Is dropping or throwing your baby into water a legit way to teach them to swim?
Not exactly—because what you’re seeing in these videos isn’t swimming lessons. “This is not ‘learn to swim,'” says Ellen Howard, director of Zodiac Swim School in Toronto. “This is infant self rescue. The videos demonstrate what an infant can do in a snapshot of time.”
In other words, Meyer’s kids are learning how to avoid drowning, not how to swim. There’s a difference.
Infant self-rescue is a legit skill that babies as young as six months can begin to learn. The bradycardic reflex causes babies to instinctively hold their breath underwater, and in infant survival swim classes, which are less common in Canada, babies like Meyer’s sons are trained by certified instructors to roll onto their backs and float on their own for multiple sessions before any dunking tests occur. Take a look at these clips of Meyer’s sons learning just that:
@mom.of.2.boyss3rd swim class ever and he is already starting to float on his own. Swim instructor is creating “waves” under his head. ##swim ##infantswim Sunset Lover – Petit Biscuit
@mom.of.2.boyssJayce first learning how to float on his back. They don’t just “yeet” them in the water. Rainy Day – Shimona Kee
Drowning is a leading cause of death in infants and children both in the US and in Canada, according to the CDC and the Canadian government. So if your family is around pools quite often, classes like these may be worth looking into. Just don’t try this technique at home without any training, as that could be highly dangerous or traumatic for your baby. “I would recommend parents reach out to their local swim school, Lifesaving Society or Red Cross Society for tips and suggestions,” says Howard. “Hiring an experienced, certified instructor is a start.”