Learning to swim could save a life

Published 8:44 am Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What a tragedy in Shreveport, La., where six teenagers died Monday after a swimming party turned into a desperate effort to save one another from drowning.

The Shreveport teens from at least two families drowned in the Red River after they were playing in shallow water and one stepped off a ledge into an 18-foot sinkhole.

The victims, who ranged from 13 to 18 years old, died while trying to save one another.

Neither the teens nor adults on shore could swim.

In this day and age, there’s no reason not to know how to swim. Parents must take the initiative to make sure their children learn how. The younger the better as one never knows when he or she will be around water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 3,443 drownings in the United States in 2007, averaging 10 deaths per day. An additional 496 people died from drowning in boating-related incidents.

More than one in five fatal drowning victims are children 14 and younger.

Locally, lessons are offered at James L. Camp Jr. YMCA.

For families tight on money, the YMCA offers a scholarship membership, which means lessons are half price. It costs $17 for eight, 30-minute lessons — a good investment if it means saving a life.

Lessons are offered to children starting at 6 months and also to adults.

Franklin Parks and Recreation offers swimming lessons in the summer for $15 a session. Each session includes 10, 30-minute lessons over two weeks.

Children who participate in the free Super Jam Kids program through the Parks and Recreation Department also get the same lessons at no charge.

When there’s a will there’s a way. There’s no excuse for not getting swimming lessons for your kids.