The American Red Cross says 92% of parents say their kids will spend time in the water this summer, yet only 40% of parents say their kids have mastered all of the basic swimming skills.
This summer the Red Cross is hoping to change that second number to make swimming season safe for everyone.
At the Clive Aquatic Center, a team of lifeguards surrounds the pool making sure Katie Essing’s two boys can stroll safely through the shallow end and Katie Elliot’s daughter can make a splash, but quickly return to the side.
“They can swim just fine when they know they can touch,” said Essing.
“She’s eight years old, but we’ve spent every summer at the pool or lake,” Elliot told Channel 13 News.
Even the most attentive lifeguard or focused parent can’t prevent every accident.
“It happens very quickly when a child slips under the water,” said McKenzie Kiger, the aquatics supervisor for the City of Clive.
Nationwide, the Red Cross estimates ten people drown unintentionally each day and in Iowa, 43 people drowned in 2012.
That’s why the Red Cross and aquatics supervisors say now is the time to test for the basic swimming skills.
“Just learning those basics like how to enter and exit safely, treading, and swimming on your front and back are all important to safety,” said Kiger.
The Red Cross says safe swimmers should be able to tread water for at least one minute and swim at least 25 yards to an exit.
If you or your child can’t do that, swimming lessons are recommended.
At Clive, even babies can get a head start on water safety.
“Our parent-child lessons start as early as 18 months and even six month old babies can get into some of our parent-child lessons. We go all the way up to adults,” Kiger told Channel 13 News.
Lessons are what Elliot credits for her daughters skill in the water.
“It’s worth it. It’s their safety. It’s piece of mind for you,” said Elliot.
Essing plans to get her boys started this year.
“They panic when they can’t touch. That’s something we’re trying to work on,” said Essing.