Local News

Experts Say Teach Kids to Swim at an Early Age

Posted July 25, 1999

— Drownings are not uncommon this time of year.Two brothers drowned in the Haw Riverin Chatham County on Sunday. That brings the death toll on the river to three in one week.

Two people have drowned in the Buckhorn Reservoir in Wilson County over the past two months. Both were healthy, adult men.

Lifeguards say people should not overestimate their ability to swim. They say it is important for adults to make sure children are OK in the water and suggest parents teach their kids how to swim at an early age.

While almost anyone can learn how to swim, experts say it is easiest for young children.

Wilson County Schoolsrequires every third grade student to complete and pass a swimming course.

AtWilson's public pools, many kids start at 4 years old. The main reason is that children do not have the same fears as many adults do.

Once you have learned how to swim, it is important to practice and keep yourself in shape.

Lifeguards say one of the biggest problems with adults is overconfidence in water. Just because someone can tread water for a short time does not necessarily mean they can swim long distances.

"I think, too often, that people have an exaggerated idea of what their swimming abilities are. I don't think the general population realizes just how much hard work it is to swim the length of a pool. When people fall out of a boat or something with their clothes on, it's that much more difficult," said aquatics supervisor Don Kimball.

If you head to recreation areas to do other things besides swim, it is still a good idea to know how to swim, especially if you are with children.

One lifeguard says if you had a child who liked to swim and you could not swim, you would not be able to jump in and help that child if he were in trouble.

Of the 4,000 drowning victims last year, 600 were 4 years old or younger. Most of the deaths are blamed on lack of parental supervision.

The National Safety Council says most adults drown because they do not know their limitations.

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