In it, he photographs infants all across America, totally submerged in water, during a swim lesson. "The biggest challenge I faced was the window of opportunity," Casteel tells A Plus. "Most of the babies only went underwater once or twice, and for just a second or two, so my opportunity to take pictures was extremely limited."
But by snapping the photos at just the right time, he was able to capture some pretty incredible moments.
The images have been compiled into a book, consisting of 750 babies photographed at 18 different swim schools in ten states. The project took nine months to complete, and we're so happy Casteel took the time to do it...
...because the photographs have a powerful message.
Casteel says the series is meant to promote the benefits of infant swimming lessons to keep children safe in the water.
"The water is a wonderful place, but can also be a dangerous one," he says. "We are the protectors and the guardians of our younger humans and we must do all that we can to keep them safe. Nobody is immune to tragedy, but by taking the proper steps, we can help to prevent one from happening."
"Infant swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by up to 88 percent."
The Washington Post notes before 2010, the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended kids start swimming lessons no younger than four. But today, the AAP recommends kids start as early as one years old.
The change came after research showed swimming lessons to help reduce the risk of young kids drowning. The Post also points to a 2009 U.S. study that looked at 61 drownings, and compared the cases to children in the same communities. The study found swimming lessons may have reduced the risk of drowning by 88 percent for kids aged between one and four-years-old. Study author, Ruth Brenner, notes that even though this is a small sample, the study makes the larger point that swimming lessons for young kids decreases rather than increases risk of drowning.
While teaching kids to swim can be the first step, there are plenty of other things one can do to ensure kids are safe around water, too.
The Mayo Clinic offers this list of steps to protect infants and toddlers around water:
-Fence in pools.
-Install alarms on doors leading to pool areas.
-Cover the body of water when it's not being used.
-Don't leave toys in the pool, as kids might be tempted to retrieve them.
-Always watch kids around water.
-Use drain covers, and make sure kids don't "play near or sit on pool or hot tub drains."
-"Keep emergency equipment handy," like floatation devices and first AID.
Now, with the message in mind, enjoy the photos below in all their nautical glory:
Not enough babies for you? Then check out this video of infants 6-9 months taking swimming lessons. They've learned to float on their backs.
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