Pool activities will go swimmingly if your kids are prepared
When Joan Nagle’s daughters were little, she worried about what might happen if one of them fell into a swimming pool.
“I grew up with a fear of water, and I wanted to make sure that if something happened, they didn’t have that fear and panic,” the Baltic resident said. “It was something I could never teach them but wanted them to learn.”
Ten years after signing up the girls for swim classes at Bubbles to Butterfly Swim School in Baltic, Nagle’s daughters are swimming instructors.
After being taught different strokes and what to do if they fell into the water, Nagle said her daughters were much safer in the water, and that made her feel more secure.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 3,000 people die each year in water-related accidents.
Betsy Dean, spokeswoman for the Norwich office of the YMCA, said the facility offers swim classes to children and adults. If a child isn’t comfortable being in or around water, Dean said one of the instructors will move them into a class with others who aren’t native swimmers. Children never swim without adult supervision and are not allowed to run in the pool area, she said.
“In our aquatic classes, the primary component is safety, and what to do if something goes wrong,” she said.
Margee Charron, owner of Bubbles to Butterfly Swim School, said much of the apprehension children sometimes have about swimming or being underwater can be alleviated by exposing them to water as toddlers.
She even hosts parent and tot classes for babies as young as 4 months.
“Preschool-age children are the most common group for classes,” she said. “Parents are taking a much more proactive role in the development of their children. To be safe around water, it helps to have them adjusted when they’re young so they don’t grow up not knowing what to do.”
Charron said she teaches children to hold their breath and get to the side of the pool should they fall or be pushed into the water, as well as not to be afraid. Another technique, learning to roll over onto their back immediately and wait for help, is appropriate for babies.
“Even a toddler can be taught to do it — if you have an 18-month-old baby that can float on their back, that baby can save their own life,” she said.
Carley Santese of Killingly has two sons, ages 8 and 5, enrolled in swim classes at Bubbles to Butterfly. One of her sons was terrified of water before being taught safety skills and how to swim.
“He was afraid of pools and lakes — everything. If you had a kiddy pool, he’d sit on the outside and splash around from out there. Now, he’s comfortable and learning endurance,” Santese said.
Santese’s younger son is learning different swim strokes and already is comfortable going underwater — a fear he conquered while enrolled in the parent and tot class.
“It gives me peace of mind to know that if something happens, they know what to do,” she said.
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- Don’t panic if you unexpectedly end up in the water. Simply hold your breath and make your way to the shore or side of the pool.
- Swim with a partner, and don’t leave children unsupervised. If something goes wrong, there should be someone to summon help.
- If you’re not a strong swimmer, don’t venture into the deep end or any area of a pool or body of water where you can’t reach the bottom.
- Only dive in areas deep enough to allow for it. Rogue rocks or hazards can make a head-first entry very dangerous.
- If you’re not confident of your swimming ability, wear a personal flotation device or individual arm floats to keep you above water.
- Swim with the current, not against it, if you find yourself too far from shore or being pulled in a different direction.