ALTOONA, Iowa – Water safety is a big deal at the Altoona Campus Aquatic Park.
On Friday, the pool joined thousands of others across the country in the World’s Largest Swim Lesson.
A busload of Southeast Polk students were in the water on a beautiful Friday morning. According to Director of Aquatics Mike Foote the purpose of the event is raise awareness for students and parents on the importance of knowing how to be safe around the water.
“The idea of it is to teach children five and up to learn to swim safe,” said Foote. He said they teach basic floats: front floats, back floats, how to breathe as well as how to hold your breath. “All we can do is encourage people to use common sense and good judgment,” he added. Foote says as kids get older the problem can reverse, kids will become apprehensive. They must then overcome fears to teach water safety.
This past week Foote and the Altoona Parks and Recreation were on hand for a water safety proclamation signed by Governor Terry Branstad. The Altoona Aquatics Director is working with the Iowa Department of Public Health. Foote also says he hopes to promote water safety training to other pools and swimming programs in the area. He says he welcomes questions or information requests from other aquatic programs.
For Foote the message is real simple: “you’re still responsible for your own children, if you’re in a swimming pool or not,” he said. He added, “no river is ever safe, no open water is ever safe, no swimming pool is ever safe, to be honest.” Parents often come with an expectation that they may leave or engage in conversations, rather than keeping a close eye on their own child. “We don’t take over for them,” he said, “we just enhance what they do.”
He added that you cannot expect a handful of teenage lifeguards to watch 200 kids and give your child total undivided attention.