Learning to swim should be easy. It seems so simple. Bodies will stay afloat in water because they’re buoyant. But, in some areas, children and adults never get exposed to the water to learn to swim. A surprising number of adults in the U.S. can’t swim, and many are petrified of the water as a result. How sad! These adults then don’t teach their children to swim, and the cycle continues.
Learning the skill of swimming can be taught in a few lessons.
Saving Lives by Learning to Swim
In some communities, access to swimming pools and other bodies of water is difficult. But, when the time comes, not knowing how to swim can be deadly.
In states like Arizona with its deserts, it would seem unlikely that children would drown, but some children drown in canals and irrigation ditches, as well as swimming pools. Arizona children drown at twice the national average for children under age 15.
In Florida, surrounded by water, children drown because their community doesn’t have the community pools and other resources where children can learn to swim. In 2014, Florida led the country in child drownings with 50 children under 15 drowned.
Seeing these statistics, it reinforces just how important it is that children learn to swim. Acclimating children to water and teaching them to swim is not only a pleasurable activity, but it can be a life-saving one.
Here are some strategies to save a child’s life, since all children are vulnerable to drowning:
Fence Your Pool
Make it difficult for a child to get into the enclosure. It is too easy for children to slip into a pool enclosure if there is not a lock on the gate. Pools need to be fenced, even if your yard is enclosed because children can slip in. And, make sure that anytime kids are in your pool an adult is supervising — and paying attention. Don’t let your pool be the source of a tragedy.
Enroll Your Child in Swimming Lessons
Be there for them and support them in the effort. Cheer them on and encourage them to succeed. If you decide to enroll your child in lessons, check out the program. If the program shows children how to start swimming by teaching them the “Dead man’s float” you might consider a different program.
Participate in community efforts and partnerships to make swimming accessible to every child. Communities need partners from the business world to assist in this universal swimming project. By developing community pools and involving businesses, it builds a community. Businesses can sponsor swim teams, volunteer for coaching, and provide scholarships for swim classes. Children learn from example and by taking lessons, they have role models. They might even decide they want to be on a swim team, building physical stamina and self-confidence.
Make Swimming Fun in Your Family
A child who is fearful of the water needs role models to make the experience accessible. Take the kids to a pool or lake. Get your swimsuit on and be ready to stay with them for the experience. If you can swim, show them in easy steps how to begin. Begin with just getting in the water.
For young children, use floats to give them a sense of security. Have them hold their breath out of the water, then make funny noises like a motorboat with most of their face out of the water. Ease them in gradually. Hold their arms and let them kick to get a rhythm. Make it fun.
Take Lessons Yourself
If you are not a swimmer, take lessons with your child so you can be confident and know the skill you are promoting. A whole new world will open to both of you if you can share the experience of learning as well as the fun experiences of a day at the beach or pool.
While swimming can be a pleasurable pastime, remember to stay with your child. Children need to be watched because an accidental drowning can happen very quickly. Once they are a confident and experienced swimmer, you can all relax and enjoy the water. And, the child will be comfortable around the water. On a hot summer day, you’ll be glad.
Featured photo credit: Frank McKenna via unsplash.com