For many families, spring break marks the beginning of their children’s return to the water since the previous summer. This can be a fun time, where lifelong memories are created. However, it is important not to forget that a lack of swimming knowledge presents a very real and present danger to many young kids.
Sadly, drowning remains the number one cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4, taking the lives of three children in the United States every day. Recent studies have shown that fewer and fewer children are taking to water-based team activities each year since 2016, with a record low in 2020 at less than 1 percent. According to a 2021 survey by Fox Business, there are over one million children in the U.S. that cannot swim. In other words, it is more important than ever to ensure your child knows what to do if they find themselves in the water.
However, there are several barriers which can interfere with proper childhood swimming education. Many parents or guardians do not have access to a pool – or controlled body of water – to teach swimming lessons. Many do not know how to swim themselves and may therefore struggle with giving instructions. And private swimming lessons can be too expensive and time-consuming, keeping many would-be swimmers out of the water year after year. The same 2021 Fox survey suggests that up to 19 percent of families in the U.S. simply cannot afford swimming lessons for their children.
This is why Farmingdale’s Goldfish Swim School launched their Jumpstart Clinics; to provide kids with ways to stay safe – and flourish – in the water. These clinics took place from April 11-14, and operated as a crash course in water safety for families that are not able to enroll weekly in lessons or are looking to give swim lessons a try.
The 30-minute swim lessons focused on everything from teaching the fundamentals of water safety to fine-tuning stroke technique. Because children between four months and twelve years old can enroll, they were separated not only by skill level but age, in order to avoid crowding and address the different needs of swimmers at different stages of development.
Families were also able to stay close during the lessons. The lobby of the swim school featured chairs and floor-to-ceiling glass through which moms, dads, siblings, and other family members could cheer on their swimmer. Several kids even stopped to wave after completing a technique.
It is critical to review water safety reminders before heading to the pool or beach this season. For those with young or inexperienced swimmers, please consider the importance of awareness and education around pool or water safety. It can save lives!
Safety Reminders Before Jumping Back In The Pool
Practice basic moves before returning to the pool: One of the best ways to protect your children against drowning is to improve comfort level in the water and strengthen swimming capabilities through swim lessons, which have been proven to reduce the risk of childhood drowning by 88 percent.
Swap out floaties & puddle jumpers for U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets: Don’t rely on floaties and puddle jumpers to keep your kids afloat. They give children a false sense of security in the water, they can easily come loose or deflate, and they teach children to float in a vertical position which is the opposite of how our bodies actually float. Search for the United States Coast Guard approval on floatation devices because it means the life jacket has met all the regulations that the United States Coast Guard has set in place as it relates to performance, construction and materials. Pay attention to proper fitting too. Fit matters, because if your head or ears can slip down beneath the life jacket, the device won’t be able to work as designed to keep your head above water and allow for proper breathing.
Seek out bright colored swimwear & properly fitted goggles: When shopping for swimwear, avoid colors that could blend in with the water and choose swimsuits with bright colors instead. They will stand out in the water and make it easier to spot a swimmer in need of help. When shopping for goggles, there’s a couple of factors to look for: making sure they fit around the eye comfortably (the top of the goggle cup should fit under the eyebrow and comfortably seal on the bottom under the eye socket), that the nose piece is not too tight or too wide, straps easily adjust.
Play it cool and follow the rules: Sometimes when our little ones are in play-mode, rules fall by the wayside. Review rules together as a family before letting your kids loose to enjoy the water. Pay special attention to pool hours, and always schedule your swims when lifeguards are present, if possible.
Make sure your kids know what to do in a water emergency: Their first instinct may be to go toward the person having trouble in the water. Instead, they should throw or reach a life preserver of sorts – and don’t go! That way, they aren’t putting themselves in jeopardy as well and are truly able to help.
Designate a water guardian: Make sure to keep your eyes on your kids at all times – even if lifeguards are present. Kids are as curious as they come and are always willing to push the limits without knowing the true hazards. Designate an adult “Water Guardian” and be sure to change guardians every 30 minutes so he/she is alert and refreshed. A Water Guardian’s sole responsibility needs to be keeping an eye on the swimmers. Vigilance is key – no chatting, no checking your phone, no distractions.
—Water safety tips provided by Lisa Armitage, Marketing & Sales Manager of Goldfish Swim School