Drowning is the second-leading cause of injury-related death among children younger than 15, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Oregon, drowning surpasses all other causes of death to children age 14 and younger.
And before this week, more than half of the third-grade students at Kalmiopsis School were “non-swimmers” – either they had never been in the water or were uncomfortable in the water. Only one of more than 100 students could be called a real swimmer, able to cross the pool with overhand strokes and standard breathing technique.
We say “before this week” because in just 30 magic minutes on Monday most of those third graders learned the basics of water safety: how to put their face in the water and blow bubbles, how to bob in the water, and how to float on their back. By Friday, we can expect that all the third graders will be comfortable in the water and able to “leave the wall” under their own power.
It’s magic, said teachers and parents, to see how much difference just a few 30-minute lessons can make.
Meanwhile, the same students have been through water safety lessons in the classroom to further protect them from accidents as we head into the summer recreation season.
This is the second year third-grade students have been through the program, thanks to organization from the third-grade teaching team and the City of Brookings Swimming Pool, and funds from the Rotary Club of Brookings-Harbor.
The Rotary Club funds the donation from its Wild Rivers Ducky Derby, so the derby mascot Webster is at the pool this week to watch the activity. “We’ll never know when,” said Rotary Club President Doug Walker, “but we may have saved a life this week.”
Regular swimming lesson sessions start June 20 at the pool, and some scholarships are available for needy families. Knowing how to swim – and be safe around the water – are essential lessons that every child should get very early.