Four recent drownings of children under seven in Central Texas, have prompted some parents to enroll their children in swimming lessons to prevent another tragedy.
Juanita Jackson who signed up her great-grandson to swimming lessons at the Waco Family YMCA is one of them.
“We’ve had a lot of accidents here this summer already so with him being able to swim it’s going to make it a little bit better because they’re going to gravitate to the water," Jackson said.
Jackson who is the guardian of 7-year-old Justice Anderson hopes he will be able to swim by the end of the summer.
“The kids love the water. They’re going to go to the water and with no one knowing how to swim is detrimental," Jackson said.
Teresa Turner decided to enroll her 8-year-old Cassidy because of a close call with one of her other children.
“My now 17-year-old was 3-years-old and he jumped into 8 feet of water. Luckily I was in the pool when he jumped," Turner said. "Just to see him going under the water, that to any parent, is like, my heart dropped. I knew what to do to automatically go get him and he was able to come up against the water," Turner said.
She enrolled her oldest child in lessons after the incident happened. Now, her 8-year-old daughter Kassidy Turner is learning how to swim.
“Anything can happen in a split second. That’s why I want my kids to learn as well," Turner said.
A Waco Family YMCA swim instructor advises parents to enroll their children at a young age in swimming lessons for them to become more accustomed to the water.
“It gets them comfortable with the water so that they can learn better swimming when they are older," YMCA Swim Instructor Samuel Bellert said.
The Waco YMCA, for example, provides classes for parents and infants between 6-months-old and 3-years-old. When children turn three, they can take swimming lessons with other beginners.
Bellert advises parents to watch their children closely when they are at the pool, even if there is a lifeguard on duty and to teach them to stay where they can swim.
He also said if parents take children to the pool more often, they are used to it. If the children are ever having trouble swimming, Bellert said there are ways to stay safe.
“If you jump in the water, that’s too deep, you sink down to the bottom, push off, turn and grab to the closest wall," Bellert said.
If someone else is having trouble swimming, the 21-year-old said you can help them from outside the pool.
“We just throw them some type of flotation device whether it would be a life jacket, a pool noodle or in a backyard pool, a soccer ball, anything that floats, just to help out. Or to do reach and assist with pool noodles, sticks, ropes, whatever they have close to them," Bellert said.
He warns that it could be dangerous for children to help a drowning victim.
“Especially younger kids, if they jump in to help a drowning person, it's basically fight or flight for the drowning victim, they are going to do anything they can to get their head above water, which includes endangering whoever is in the water with them," Bellert said.
The YMCA is providing swim lessons for children all year around. There are summer classes available every two weeks.
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