Teach Children To Swim As Soon As Possible

By JOHN M. DERBY
Times Publisher
July 6, 2017

There is never a good reason for losing a life in the water, and we know it happens all the time. Young children at the age of 3 being too close to water is totally unacceptable unless that child is closely supervised by an adult who can swim.
In the most recent water accident who was to blame? The responsibility remains with the parent(s). When children are close to water, full time observation is absolutely necessary. One slip, one wave, one rubber raft or inner tube turned over, can mean a life.
Yet, water is always going to be a present danger and it cannot be avoided. The solution is to teach children water safety at the very earliest age possible. Some children learn to swim even before they learn to walk.
This is the voice of experience talking. As a water safety instructor, we came to California to work as a lifeguard and swimming teacher, and that is what we did every summer for the four years we spent going to college in Fresno.
We literally taught over 1,000 young people how to swim. Some of those were unwilling participants, like our own two children who laughed so much they would not learn from us.
However, we knew the importance of swimming, and we lived in an area of Merced County where the canals were all over the place. It would be only a matter of time before someone would coax them into the canals on a hot day.
We came up with an idea. Since our kids wouldn’t take us seriously, maybe they would believe us when we told them that people threw broken beer bottles into the canals, and they lined the bottom, so if you stepped on the bottom your feet would be cut.
Somehow, they believed us (and it was not a lie). Our kids eventually became good swimmers after we installed one of those above ground pools in the backyard.
Fear of water is a major problem in teaching the kids to swim. Actually it is not the fear that kids have of water, but the fear that parents have of their kids being in water. Many parents have never learned to swim so they actually pass on the fear of water to their children.
If need be, hire someone who knows how to swim, to teach your children how to swim. It makes sense. You do not try to teach your children many subjects which are taught in schools, why not send your child to a swimming school.
Many communities have swimming programs which are not very costly. Enter the child in one of these just to get him or her started. There are many other places to teach children swimming. Parents who have pools in their backyards and have children of their own who are learning to swim could be a good choice, however, make sure they are responsible parents who keep and eye on the swimmers at all times. No watching television inside while the youngsters are supposed to be taking care of themselves.
Swimming is serious business, but it also could be one of the most enjoyable exercises there is on a good hot summer day. Do not delay with teaching your children about swimming and water safety.
The story you read in the paper recently about the parent who lost his life trying to save his child, could be the story of hundreds of parents who are just not prepared.


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