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Tallahassee officials stress swimming safety this summer

Posted at 5:25 PM, Jun 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-03 17:25:31-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Now that school is out for the summer, pools around Leon County are open on weekdays.

And that brings its own safety concerns.

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 1-4 and the majority of those drownings and near-drownings happen in residential swimming pools and in open water sites. So how can we keep our children safe in the water?

What is the first line of defense against drowning? Experts say learn how to swim.

Statistics show that 87 percent of youth who don't know how to swim plan to visit a beach or pool at least once during the summer months, putting themselves at risk of drowning.

Next, experts recommend appointing one adult as a designated watcher whenever children are swimming.

"Their primary goal is to be watching the kids, to be aware of where they are," said Kera Twomey, the pool supervisor for the Trousdale Aquatic Center in Tallahassee. "We don't want them to be on their cell phone or just not taking it seriously."

Twomey says if your child is a nervous swimmer or doesn't know how to swim:

"Wear a life jacket. All of the City of Tallahassee offers life jackets upon request," said Twomey. "We have them here, we want you to use them."

At the Trousdale Athletic Center, they also recommend a safety break. They do it at the top of every hour. That's a 10 minute break for swimmers under 18 to get out of the pool, relax, hydrate, use the restroom and check in with their designated watcher, creating a time to regroup and put the focus back on safety.

"I want everyone to have a very safe and fun time," said Twomey.

The problem of not knowing how to swim is magnified in minority communities. A national study conducted by the USA Swimming Foundation found 64 percent of of African-American children cannot swim and 45 percent of Hispanic children cannot swim, while only 40 percent of Caucasian children cannot swim.

The City of Tallahassee does offer reduced-rate swimming lessons. For more information contact any of the city's pools and speak to a supervisor. For more information about the city's pools and lessons offered, click here.