‘World’s Largest Swimming Lesson’ could save lives

Swimming lessons (KXAN photo)
Swimming lessons (KXAN photo)

TEXAS (KXAN) — The warm summer weather in Central Texas means many families will be heading to nearby pools to cool off. Swimming is more than just something fun to do — It’s a skill that could save your life.

Thursday marks the eighth annual event for The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson. It was created to serve as a platform to help local community aquatic facilities get the word out about the importance of swimming skills.

The global event will take place in 600 locations in more than 20 countries. Several pools in Central Texas including the Lakeway Swim Center, Round Rock’s Cat Hollow Park and the Georgetown Recreation Center are participating. And this year, all Schlitterbahn water parks in Texas are also taking part.

“I think prevention is probably the biggest message and that swim lessons save lives,” said Laura Hudson, Aquatic Programs Coordinator at the Lakeway Swim Center.

Teaching the basics of swimming will help children know how to react if they get into a dangerous situation in the water, Hudson said. It also provides a solid foundation at a young age that can help develop swimming instincts.

Children also learned how to submerge their faces, open their eyes underwater, the front float, back float and basic swim strokes. Learning to float on one’s back is beneficial when in deep water because it helps prevent panic.

“So we like to teach them how to swim without goggles because if you fall into a pool you’re not going to have goggles. So I want them to experience anything they might happen to them if they fall into a pool before it happens so they know how to react,” Hudson said.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning remains the leading cause of unintended injury related death for U.S. children ages 1 to 4, and the second leading cause for children under 14; drowning is an even greater threat in other countries around the world.

Many lack basic swimming skills: In 2014, a survey completed by the American Red Cross found more than half of all Americans, 54 percent, either can’t swim or don’t have all of the basic swimming skills.

Parents also play a crucial role in swimming safety.

“Definitely keeping your eyes on your child and learning CPR — I think every parent should learn CPR in the event of an emergency of a drowning, Hudson said. “And then teaching your kid about water safety. Tell them to always ask permission, knowing the rules and telling your child the rules and having barriers around the pool. It’s about letting them know the pool is dangerous but is also a place where we can have fun.”

The local participants are partnering with Colin’s Hope to spread awareness of drowning prevention. Colin Holst, a 4-year-old Austin boy drowned during an accident at a pool in 2008. Since then, his family has pushed for safe water practices.

KXAN’s Alicia Inns is LIVE at Cat Hollow Park in Round Rock with a preview of the lesson on KXAN News Today

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