When you become a parent, you quickly realize that your new goal in life is to make sure that your children’s lives are full of new experiences that lead them to discover their best selves. For Liz Huber, CAST Water Safety Foundation Founder & Director, her children’s experience with self-rescue lessons led her to pursue her own path of water safety education by becoming a certified ISR self-rescue instructor and founding the CAST Water Safety Foundation.
As an educator with a background in business and philanthropy, Liz saw an opportunity for each of her passions to be fused together for an even greater purpose.
“Self-rescue swim lessons were the most empowering thing that ever happened to our family. I wanted to share that empowerment with others.”
We are thrilled to celebrate Liz Huber as our Water Safety Champion of the Month this May!
Liz’s Introduction to the Aquatics Industry
Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago and having a pool in her backyard made Liz a strong swimmer by the time she was 4 years old. As a parent today, she knew teaching children to swim at an early age would make them safer, and set a goal for her own children to learn by the age of 3.
With this goal in mind, she went on her search but struggled to find a local swim program that was highly respected while providing the result of teaching kids under 5 to be competent in the water.
Finally, while on vacation, she came across a family that told her about ISR self-rescue lessons, and to Liz, this was the perfect fit for safeguarding her water-loving babies.
She enrolled her daughters in ISR self-rescue lessons and noticed a significant difference in their overall quality of life as a result. Her children slept better, ate better, had better interpersonal relationships, and hit long-awaited physical milestones, leaving them with a deep sense of empowerment.
On that basis alone, Liz realized the lessons were worth it. However, it wasn’t until she became a licensed instructor at her daughter’s swim school that she understood the most critical piece of water competency—drowning prevention.
As an instructor, she had the opportunity to speak to another mom, Katie Trent, whom she met while her daughter was in self-rescue lessons. Unfortunately, Liz soon discovered she had lost her daughter in a tragic drowning accident.
A simple statement from Katie would echo in Liz’s heart for years to come, “How did you learn about these lessons before losing a child? The only reason I’m here is because my daughter is gone.”
A Moment Becomes an Opportunity
No one should have to experience the gravity of such a loss, so Liz took it upon herself to learn everything she could about safer swimming initiatives during the pandemic. Realizing how much education goes into keeping a child under five safe around water, she began to craft a new approach to water safety education.
As a former elementary educator, she understood that in any case (development, education, emotional intelligence, etc.), benchmarks change with age. This understanding led her to make the following decision: CAST would customize their lessons to how a child under 5 learns while tracking the data of the biggest risk factors for their age group.
The CAST Water Safety Foundation facilitates swim safety education. Their approach to water competency heavily focuses on education surrounding water, the risks, the benefits of competency, and the importance of guardian involvement in the learning process.
The children’s caretakers are actively involved in learning strategies for routines when entering the water, respect for water, and being in the water with your child. Caretaker involvement can help to ensure children are safe and skilled in aquatic environments, which can lead to a lifelong love of swimming and water-based activities. Additionally, guardians can also learn about the benefits of swimming for physical and mental health.
Self-rescue lessons are given to each child one-on-one at 10-minute weekly intervals. Program duration is up to 6 weeks or until instructors determine the child is “safe and skilled,” after which lessons are less frequent and done for maintenance.
They partner with a number of organizations and foundations, such as the 4 ANNA Foundation, the Live Like Jake Foundation, and Levi’s Legacy, bringing education and empowerment to families with the overall goal of creating “safer swimmers sooner.”
CAST-ing a Vision for the Future
Growth and expansion are on the horizon for this small but mighty organization, which just reached its 500th swim scholarship, which helps minimize the cost of self-rescue lessons. They anticipate future growth by adding more scholarship partners with trusted and effective instructors who desire to give back and provide education to swim families.
Currently, they are partnered with 12 self-rescue swim instructors in the Chicago suburbs and cities throughout the U.S. The CAST team hopes to keep growing scholarship providers and further water safety education for families nationwide.
Liz’s biggest hope is that all swim schools, swim lesson providers, and advocates can unite and spread awareness under a common goal: customized education and instruction which will best safeguard children under five.
CAST remains a community pillar for educating parents of children under 5 on water safety and drowning prevention. In the future, they hope to partner with others that have the same mission but are focused on older children and teens, as well as organizations that are committed to
Water safety is a critical topic that cannot be overlooked, and the work of organizations like CAST Water Safety Foundation is an important part of initiatives that aim to save lives.
Thank You For Being A Water Safety Champion!
Liz Huber is a true Water Safety Champion who works tirelessly to educate people on water safety and drowning prevention initiatives. Her dedication and passion for water competency are an inspiration to us all to take the necessary precautions and make water activities safer for everyone.
Thank you for being a Water Safety Champion, Liz Huber!
If you are making a difference in water safety and drowning prevention or know someone who has, we want to hear your story.
Please take a moment to share the story on our website for a chance to be nationally recognized as a Water Safety Champion.