My son Liam has been enrolled in swimming lessons since Goldfish Swim School West Chester opened in September 2016. He started in the Junior 1 class at the age of three and is currently in Glider 3 since just turning five. Learning basic safety and survival skills while swimming is something all children need know. He has built trusting relationships with all of the swim instructors that have taught him. He’s also gained confidence in himself with the passing of each new skill set and level. The instructors know his needs and what skills he is working on. After a year and a half of constant, perpetual swimming lessons I know that my son understands how to be safe in the water. As a parent, this is the most reassuring and valuable skill for my child to learn at an early age.
Julie Grote, mother of Liam (age 5)
Like Julie and many other parents who visit the swim school each week, our friends at Goldfish Swim School believe that every child needs to have the skills to be safer around water. Because May is National Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Month, we want to connect with parents to review some critical water safety basics.
When it comes to drowning, the statistics are pretty staggering. From 2005-2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day. Drowning is the leading cause of injury death to children ages one to four—and the second leading cause of injury death for children ages one to 14, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What’s more, statistics show that thousands of children are hospitalized each year for nonfatal drowning incidents. Accidents can happen quickly. A child can drown in as little as one inch of water and in as little time as 20 seconds.
Know the signs of drowning
Actual drowning looks a lot different than what is often shown in the movies. Drowning is very quiet. A drowning person cannot yell; they are using all of their energy to try to get air. The more you can train your eyes to recognize the signs of drowning, the more situations become clear and preventable. Lifeguards are trained to look for signs such as “climbing the invisible ladder,” bobbing, not making any forward or backward progression, eyes looking at the water’s surface from slightly below the water.
Keeping children safer in the water
Every parent and caregiver needs to keep the following water safety tips in mind:
* Any time kids are around water, designate a “water watcher” who will avoid cell phones, conversations, magazines and anything else that might distract the adult from watching swimming children EVERY SINGLE SECOND. After all, most children who drown are supervised.
* The American Red Cross says that the number one thing that parents can do to keep kids safer around water is to enroll them in swim lessons. Swimming is an essential life-saving skill with numerous physical, mental and intellectual benefits. (CMB Mom Perspective: Contributor Kristin details her child’s experience with swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School.)
* Get swim lessons for yourself or any other caregiver who cannot swim or is afraid of water. (CMB Mom Perspective: Is your little one afraid of water? The folks at Goldfish Swim School can help. Read CMB contributor Casey’s experience at Goldfish with her child who would NOT get into the water.)
* Realize that floaties, noodles and plastic inner tubes do NOT protect against drowning. They are created as water toys, not life-saving devices. Life jackets should be designated as U.S. Coast Guard-approved. (CMB Mom Perspective: One CMB mom discusses why she avoided puddle jumpers when teaching her kids to swim.)
* Know that even the most seasoned swimmers can still encounter trouble. Make sure swimmers don’t overestimate their skills and that they understand the importance of never swimming alone.
In addition to these tips, there are several basic skills that the water safety experts at Goldfish Swim School work on with students every week. Parents can practice these skills with their kids anytime they are in the water together:
- Work on getting in and out of the pool safely. Fin, Fin, Belly, Flipper! Help your little ones learn how to get out of the pool by manipulating their bodies in this order: elbow, elbow, tummy, knee. Practice this often; you can even do this on your living room floor by having your baby climb onto a couch or chair! After you practice, always remember to celebrate. Eventually, your little one will be strong enough to manage the movement on his own! This is a skill that kids continue to use to safely exit the pool — even when they are older!
- Jump, Turn, Swim to the Wall! Once they have the movement down, let your child jump off the side of the pool to you, help them physically turn back to the wall and then assist them in getting out of the pool by using the fin, fin, belly, flipper method. Do this over and over again as they get more confident let them go under the water and come to the surface on their own. This teaches kids to automatically turn back to the wall behind them to climb out. If a child were to fall into a pool, this skill could help them find the quickest way to safety.
- Sea Otter Float. Work with your child on turning over and getting their faces out of the water to take a breath when he/she fatigues.
Want to practice these skills with your kids?
Families are invited to join Goldfish Swim School for Safety Day on Saturday, May 19, 2018. For more information and to RSVP for this free community event, please visit their website or call (513) 857-1700.
About Goldfish Swim School West Chester
Goldfish Swim School West Chester provides swim instruction to children ages 4 months to 12 years-old in a unique setting with highly trained instructors, small class sizes (max 4:1 student to teacher ratio), shiver-free 90-degree pools, and a state-of-the-art water purification system. In addition to swim lessons, Goldfish Swim School West Chester also offers weekly family swims (for both members and non-members) and birthday party packages. For more information or to register for lessons, visit the website or call (513) 857-1700.