Water Safety: Kids learn to swim before they can walk

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – The Hollywood movie, Beethoven, has a drowning scene with the little girl waving her arms and screaming for help. A real drowning scenario is much different.
It’s silent, still and only takes seconds.

Bob Pratt is the director of education for Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. He says drowning happens quicker than you think.”They portray drowning as this big, loud, long affair where there is waving and yelling. where there is three or four or five minutes where the person is in distress, when in actuality drowning happens almost suddenly, it happens very, very quickly.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says “An average of one in five people who drown are children under 14 years old.”

A fun day at the pool can turn deadly…very fast. That’s why introducing your child to the water early…can save their life.
As a parent I feel that it is my responsibility obviously, to not only teach my children how to walk, how to talk and how to feed themselves but also very important to teach them to swim but to save their lives.” Said Mother, Beth Dexheimer

Dexheimer enrolls her son in swim lessons at Goldfish swim school in Okemos.
classes for infants…even as young as 4-months to teach them not to be afraid of the water.
Dexheimer considers herself a decent swimmer, but says all parents should leave “teaching” to the experts…a bond that is created….and techniques that are learned.

“When my son moved to this class from his last class to this class there were tears involved because he was no longer going to be swimming with Mr. Mike.” Dexheimer said

Jenn Smith is the General Manager at Goldfish Swim School, she says teaching children when to turn over on their backs is most important known as the roll-over.
Where they swimming forward first, taking a breath second.

“Roll over on to their back, take that breath and then roll back in and continue swimming to the other side.”

The kids learn everything from getting out of a pool on their own to the breast and the back strokes and so much more. The first goal, smith says, is do not panic if you fall into the water.
Pratt agrees, once you start panicking in the water…it’s game over.

“What happens when you panic is your heart beats faster, you start breathing faster and as you’re hyperventilating you’re actually letting out more air then you’re taking in which makes you sink more. which is very unfortunate in a drowning situation because flotation is the key. if you relax and take a nice deep breath in, your chances of floating are much much greater.”

Summer in Michigan is short enough, but being surrounded by lakes can increase the danger.
Smith says it’s the summer months when you want to keep your child in swim lessons.

“It’s really important to keep them in in the summer. It’s actually the best time to have them enrolled because they will be practicing those skills out of the pool area”.

As for Dexheimer, her 2 year old son has the skills to keep him safe should tragedy strike.

“I know without a doubt that he would be able to flip himself over and float there until somebody came to help him.”

and for a loving mother…that’s all that matters.

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