A year ago, New York Times photographer Seth Casteel visited 18 swimming schools in 10 different states, and took photos of 750 babies learning to swim underwater.
Casteel had already published two adorable water-related photo books called Underwater Dogs and Underwater Puppies, and while working on those books, he learned a shocking fact: accidental drowning was the number one cause of death in the U.S. for kids under 5 years old.
The inspiration for his next book, Underwater Babies, struck. As he explained in his intro, he set out "to create a joyful, whimsical series of images of babies swimming to generate awareness about water safety for children." After capturing photos of babies during their swim lessons, some who were dropped directly into the water as part of a "self-rescue" techique created by Harvey Barnett in 1966, Casteel chose 67 photos for his book.
What's amazing about the photos is that they all capture an unbelievably wide range of genuine, off-the-cuff, and hilarious expressions and poses made by babies underwater. The babies themselves range from ages 4 to 17 months, and some of them also stand out in colorful outfits that include scuba gear, a mermaid's tail, or a superhero mask. Speaking to TODAY, Casteel also revealed his amazement at capturing "a one-in-a-million shot" of 8-month-old twins Isabel and Sabrina holding hands underwater. But ultimately the process of photographing each baby was, as he also wrote in his intro, "astonishing to see, each and every time."
Check out the wonder-filled photos from Casteel's book below:
Zoe, 5 months
Colton, 11 months
Valentina, 9 months
Michael G., 12 months
Adeline, 9 months
Warren M., 11 months
Ayla, 7 months
Michael R., 4.5 months
Zelda Mae, 7 months
Emerson, 7 months
Claire, 7 months
Khyleigh, 9 months
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Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com. She loves collecting children's picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea.