Nearly 300 children who are under the age of 5 drown every year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. 80% of those drowning fatalities happen in residential settings (in the backyard pool, at the neighbors, or at a friend's house). We went to the Avera McKennan Fitness Center where swim instructors start kids out in the water even before they can walk. They say the earlier the better and the better chances for less tragedies.
Avera McKennan Fitness and Swim Instructor Marie Boetel can teach anyone, at any age, to swim. 2 year old Adisyn Bartmann's Mommy and Daddy were smart to start her young. They start them out at the Fitness Center as young as 6 months.
Marie says, "At 6 months old they are getting acclimated to the water. They are happy being here socializing. And that's what we want. Somewhere around the time they are walking on land and can propel themselves we figure they can do the same in water. They can learn skills like rolling over from front to back, do some kicking and rollover to the front and move their arms to get to where they are going."
Boetel says it's important for parents to realize that kids starting out aren't going to be doing the butterfly. It starts with learning to not be afraid of the water. It moves on to learning different skills in the water (like blowing bubbles instead of swallowing water). Level 3 is stroke development.
Adisyn's Mom Elizabeth Bartmann says, "I wanted her to do this because of the importance of safety and being around the water. I didn't learn how to swim so it was important for me to have her learn to swim."
Before kids graduate from swimming lessons Marie suggests using personal floatation devices which is something that straps on to them. Noodles may be fun to use, but she says they are not as good in the safety department.
Marie says, "When I'm in the water with the student, we don't have any floatation device on them because I want them to get used to putting their feet down and standing up and realizing their head is above water. "
You never know, maybe one day Adisyn will be an Olympic swimmer. Until then this little fish will continue to learn the ABC's of staying afloat in the water. That's pretty good considering she's still learning her ABC's.
Keep in mind Boetel says swimming lessons don't make a child "drown proof". So if they are young and you are at a pool with no lifeguards you still need to keep a close eye on them.
Click for more information about private swimming lessons at the AMFC.