Local youth and adults are learning how to swim and stay safe in the water this summer.
The Lenoir City Parks and Recreation Department and the American Red Cross are teaming up to provide swim lessons four days a week for all age groups at the Claire Donahue Aquatic Center.
“It’s always good to offer up the swim lessons, especially with as many pools as we have and our pool,” Zack Cusick, Parks and Recreation program coordinator, said. “It gives the kids a little opportunity to learn how to swim. They’re going to be coming to the pool or living by the lake, so I’m sure a lot of them have a boat or get on the lake a lot with friends or family. It’s really important for kids at a young age to be able to learn how to swim, especially in our area with the adventures of water that can happen.”
The lessons are broken into different levels, starting from beginners to intermediate to advanced swimmers.
“We have anything from beginning to learning how to float and to learn how to just tread water all the way up to strokes and advanced swimming,” Faith Simmons, pool lifeguard, said. “Sometimes, it depends on age, but most of the kids we have ... we really just want to take it slow, making sure they’re able to swim on their own.”
Parents have also taken advantage of parent-assisted lessons.
Tim Butterfield brought his daughter out to the pool Monday for their first lesson together.
“My daughter does quite a bit of swimming, but is not quite confident to swim by herself in a pool, so we thought we’d come try out some swim lessons here and see if it helps,” Butterfield said. “She did some little loggerhead survival swim lessons when she was younger, which I think is real important for people who have pools. She’s a little nervous doing it by herself, so I appreciate that they offer the parent swim lessons.”
Not every participant will fully learn how to swim by the end of the curriculum, but they will know how to stay safe in the water in case of an emergency.
“With the younger kids, our focus is that if there were to be an accident and they did fall in the water, they would know how to get to a wall safely,” Simmons said. “We just want to be preventative in what we do. We can’t guarantee a kid can swim by the end of it — it just depends on the kid — but we do try to focus on safety and teaching the kids about water safety.”
According to the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is major public health problem worldwide. In 2015, an estimated 360,000 people died from drowning.
Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death, accounting for 7 percent of all injury-related deaths.
”We think parents are so careful and as close as you can watch your child, it only takes a second for somebody to turn around and your kid falls in the pool,” Simmons said. “Accidents happen and we know that, so we want to be able to prevent an accident from going further to even the death of a child. We just want them to be able to get to wall and have a peace of mind for the parents as well.”
For more information about swim lessons, contact the Lenoir City Parks and Recreation Department at 865-986-2715.