It’s important to teach children how to swim

Youngsters learn about safety

BOARDMAN — Hot weather has finally arrived in the Mahoning Valley and beyond, and something a lot of children will be doing during the summer months to cool off, whether at home or on vacation, is spending time in the water.

While parents expect their children to have fun swimming, they also need to ensure their safety around water, and the best way to do that is for children to learn how to swim.

Alivia Smith, a swim instructor at the Davis Family YMCA on McClurg Road in Boardman, said “Learning to swim is important because it’s an essential life-saving skill. Everyone should know how to swim because water is everywhere.”

Building that skill set can be done by introducing your child to the water at an early age.

“The sooner you get your children into the water the less time they have to create any fear. The older you get the harder it is to overcome a fear of water,” Smith said.

According to the Centers for Distease Control and Prevention, drowning is the number one cause of death in children ages 1 to 4.

Boardman resident and swim instructor David Joachim said there’s more to swimming than learning techniques.

“Learning to swim is important not only because lessons teach a child how to swim, they also teach how to be safe in and around water,” he said.

Teaching kids the ins and outs of water safety doesn’t mean they should be left alone. Adults should still be cognizant of children in water, even if the child is a strong swimmer.

“Sometimes the parents are in a lounge chair or sitting on the beach texting and not paying attention to their children,” Joachim said. “Drowning is silent and happens in seconds – within four minutes a child can die by drowning.”

Children with additional needs can also take part in swimming, Joachim said.

The Davis Family YMCA offers Diverse Abilities Adaptive Swim Lessons (DAASL) in the therapy pool, where instructors receive special training to teach the children techniques to keep them safe.

Ed Metzinger, aquatic director at the YMCA, said drowning is one of the leading causes of death in special needs children. Through DAASL they can receive adaptability lessons which are one-on-one.

“We adapt our swim lessons to the specific needs of the child. These kids are amazing, this is a wonderful thing we have going on,” Metzinger said.

In addition to the seriousness of swimming, there’s also the fun parts, too.

Joachim said he’s noticed in his swim classes help children forge new friendships.

“We refer to it as FAB: friendship, achievement, belonging,” he said. “They not only learn to swim, but they also make friends.”

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