SWIMMING SAFETY: Safe And Supervised Swimming
Two Iowa children drowned this week. One went swimming in a West Des Moines lake, the other in the Iowa River near Marshalltown. Their deaths underscore the importance of swimming safety.
“Both of my kids had no fear of the water as babies,” says Victoria Cloe.
As a mother, her fear was that without the right training, they could get into trouble. This summer her four and five-year olds are taking swim lesson at the YMCA in Waukee.
“I knew if they didn’t get them into swim lessons, that they’d put themselves in the water. So really for safety reasons,” says Cloe.
Instructor Brian Longren says all swimmers need to know what to do if they get into trouble on the water. Get on your back and float.
“You just yank that chin up, get the stomach up and just float with your arms out kind of like an airplane,” he says.
If you’re in a lake or river, you need to do one more thing.
“If you’re in a current, you want to get on your back but you also want to make sure you’re going down current with your feet first ‘cuz you never know what to expect. There could be some rocks, some branches that are hidden,” says Longren.
“You know there’s no currents or anything like that. Being here at the swimming pool is safer to be at than a lake or a beach,” says Mark Brewick with the West Des Moines Park and Recreation Department.
While some swimmers will choose the open water over a pool, the city of West Des Moines doesn’t want the costs to keep kids away. That’s why the city offers deep discounts on passes to low-income families. They start at $20. Contact city hall to see if you quality for the program.
“So far this summer, we’ve sold about 106 swim passes,” says Brewick.
”Of course we try to keep an eye on them as parents, but things happen all the time and it’s an important skill for them to have,” says Cloe.
Officials say any child under the age of eight should have a parent with them at all times. If you’re swimming in open water, wear a life jacket and don’t go into water that goes over your chest.