MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
With the summer temperatures rising above average, many individuals have begun trips to beaches, lakes, pools and water parks.
Unfortunately, safety precautions are not always followed, which is why officials at the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany pool are teaching water safety and swim lessons to those most at risk.
“It is important to get young kids used to the water and it is a lot easier to teach them because they are fearless,” Dan Daniels, athletic director, Semper Fit, Marine Corps Community Services, MCLB Albany, said. “They are in the developmental phase, so the younger the better.”
Daniels said water safety is a major component of training because a lot can happen in and around water, which is why he and his staff have precautions in place.
“We really emphasize the effects of water if they are not paying attention. All of the lifeguards are certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid and safety,” he said.
“They work with the kids one on one in order to build their confidence, which also helps them learn faster,” Daniels added.
There are three different levels of swimming lessons currently being offered to a maximum number of 10 per class.
The Bubble Blowers class helps familiarize a child with the water.
The Aqua Kids class is for those who are a little more skilled and familiar with being in the water.
The Super Swimmers class is for those who already know how to swim and are more advanced.
“The classes are based on ability, not age and everyone must take a swim test so we can see where they are before being allowed in the deep end,” Daniels said.
“Classes are held every Tuesday and Thursday for this session with another one scheduled for later in July,” he noted.
Elisabeth Allen, aquatics manager, Semper Fit, MCCS, who has been employed there for nearly six years, said she loves working with the children and seeing them in the water after they have learned to swim.
“Before every class begins, I go over the pool safety rules and where to go for emergency help,” she said. “We teach them how to swim, but also how to be safe. The lessons are taught in different progressions, which allows them to learn the basics faster. We want this to be fun, so I’m careful to build their confidence levels up first.”
Allen said the younger children have no fear of the water which makes them more at risk for accidents, but the older ones tend to be more nervous.
Chanae Forrest, mother of Cameron Forrest-Myers, 3, said her family took a vacation to Panama City Beach, Fla., recently, and he was out in the water up to his chest.
“I noticed Cameron was unafraid of the water and did not want to get out of it, so we decided to get him swimming lessons to teach him pool safety and how to swim,” she said.
Another parent, Latanya Coakley, agreed and said she wanted her child, Ahmya Coakley, 4, to learn to swim and get used to the water because it is very important for her safety.
According to the Web site, www.poolsafety.gov, there have been 37 drownings and 38 near-drowning accidents involving children reported by the media in the first few months of 2011.
A new public education campaign aimed at reducing childhood drowning, submersion injuries and entrapments has been launched by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission titled Pool Safety: Simple Steps to Save Lives.
The CPSC reports there are 260 drowning deaths of children younger than five each year in swimming pools.
Chelsea Hodges said her whole family loves the water and she wanted her daughter, Emmeline, 4, to know how to be safe in the water, which is why she began lessons at 13 months old.
The base pool is open Tuesday - Sunday from 1-7 p.m. for recreational swimming and Tuesday - Friday from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. for lap swim.
It is open to all active-duty military, retirees, civilian-Marines, contractors and their families.
For more information, call (229) 639-5246.