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Play It Cool at the Pool

Put water safety first this summer

(ROCKWALL, TX – May 18, 2017) With summer approaching, lots of folks will be looking to beat the Texas heat by partaking in a variety of fun water activities such as swimming and boating.

But regardless whether you’re taking your child for a fun swim at the local community pool or hanging out with friends on Lake Ray Hubbard, learning safety around the water can be the difference between life and death.

According to statistics from the CDC, drownings are a leading cause of injury death for children ages 1-14, and three children die every day from drowning. In fact, drowning kills more children ages 1-4 than anything else besides birth defects.

Further CDC statistics showed that from 1999-2010 in the United States, most of the drowning deaths of children in the 1-4 age group occurred in a swimming pool. The drowning deaths of persons age 5-19 and adults age 20-84 in the U.S. in that time period occurred mostly in a natural water setting such as a lake or a pond.

Drowning doesn’t discriminate; it can happen to anyone, and at a number of different water sources – swimming pools, lakes, ponds, even bathtubs.

The J.E.R. Chilton YMCA at Rockwall recently introduced the new safety-first approach from the YMCA’s national aquatics program to its swim lessons program to help build better, stronger and safer swimmers.

“Water safety is so important because the cost of failure is inconceivable,” said Rockwall YMCA Senior Programs Director Dustin Davis. “I’ll never forget this one man I was teaching how to swim at the Richardson Y, and he told me that a kid had drowned at the pool at his apartment complex, and that had he been walking by when the kid was drowning, he couldn’t have even saved him because he didn’t know how to swim.”

The new base curriculum for the Rockwall Y’s swim lessons program teaches kids water safety first and foremost using the following three techniques:

Ask For Permission – teaches kids to never get in the water without first asking permission from their parent(s)

Jump-Push-Turn-Grab – In this skill sequence, a child jumps into the water, pushes off the bottom, turns around to face the wall, grabs the wall, and safely exits the pool. The sequence simulates the experience children have if they are submerged in water unexpectedly. After learning the sequence, children have the skills to get back to the side of the pool or to safety.

Swim-Float-Swim – In this skill sequence, children swim a short distance on their front, turn to their back to float, then turn to their front to continue swimming. Rolling onto their back periodically allows them to rest and breathe. The sequence helps children stay afloat until someone arrives to help them or they are able to get to safety using the combined skills.

Swimmers will go through six different stages in the swim lessons program:

  1. Water Acclimation, ages 3-12
  2. Water Movement, ages 3-12
  3. Water Stamina, ages 3-12
  4. Stroke Introduction, ages 5-12
  5. Stroke Development, ages 5-12
  6. Stroke Mechanics, ages 5-12

“What’s cool about our program is it’s a progression,” Davis said. “If you go through all of it, at the end you’ll be able to swim at the same level as a competitive swimmer. This program has been worked on for thousands of hours by aquatics professionals from all over the United States.”

Each stage is fully outlined to parents who have kids joining the swim lessons program, telling them exactly what the kids will be taught and how they will be taught. Rockwall YMCA Assistant Aquatics Director Myron Barron said that kind of transparency keeps the parents more involved in the lessons.

“If a parent knows exactly what their kid is about to be taught, they’ll pay more attention during the lesson. That’s important because the thing with drowning is that most of the time the parent wasn’t paying attention. So this gets them more focused on their kid in the water.”

After completion of the Stroke Mechanics course, swimmers can take it to the next level by trying out for the Rockwall Y’s Riptides Competitive Swim Team open for ages 5-21. Different levels of the swim team include Cub Swimming, Novice 1, Novice 2 and Orange level for the most advanced swimmers.

The Rockwall Y also offers a full YMCA of the USA Lifeguard Training Course that includes CPR for the Professional Rescuer (CPRO) and First Aid, Oxygen Administration, and YMCA Lifeguarding.

To register for any of these aquatics programs, visit jerchiltonymca.org or come to the Y in person at 1210 N Goliad St, or email Myron Barron at MBarron@YMCADallas.org.

By Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News. Photos courtesy of J.E.R. Chilton YMCA.

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