The leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4 is drowning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A growing trend in swim training parents are opting for is called infant self-rescue, or ISR, and swim coach Sherry Spaar is one of the few certified ISR instructors in the San Marcos area to offer it.

iSwim4Life, Spaar’s swim school and activity gym, is located on Hunter Road just past the Posey Road intersection, and over the years it has grown from summertime instruction to classes offered year-round.

Spaar not only offers this specialized instruction to young children, but she also teaches every age group at all levels of ability, from 6 months to adulthood. Spaar has coached for more than 23 years in San Marcos as a teacher and swim instructor as well as competitive training with the San Marcos Academy High School swim team. For many years she thought about how to gauge the need for a privately owned swim school that operates all year.

Coach Sherry Spaar teaches private lessons and group classes in her aquatics studio at 4105 Hunter Rd., San Marcos. (Eric Weilbacher/ Community Impact Newspaper)

Eventually she took the leap and gradually filled up classes year-round. Her business is in its fifth year at the Hunter location. “I just figured it was needed, and boy was it needed,” Spaar said. Spaar typically teaches a mix of private and group lessons all day long, ranging from 40-55 students a day of all ages.

Classes for spring 2022 are already filling up. “The kids I taught 23 years ago—now they’re sending me their kids,” she said. Spaar wants to expand by adding another coach and eventually building a larger facility.

The cornerstone of the school, however, remains ISR, and she is looking for another coach that has completed the certification. “It’s the safest training out there. Six weeks of intensive training,” Spaar said.

She advocates for this style of training because she believes it is a fundamental skill to the “layers of protection” a child or adult can have in water-related emergencies.