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Swimming: Why it's more important than teaching your kids to walk

Summertime is just around the corner and it will arrive before you know it. And summertime means water time.

Water parks, beaches, boat rides, sea wall strolls, public swims, and lake dips. This time of the year lets everyone enjoy all of our favourite aquatic activities outdoors in the sunshine and, although it's super fun, it's extremely dangerous.

Here are some statistics form the 2018 Canadian Drowning Report by the Lifesaving Society:

  • 423 water-related deaths in Canada alone

  • British Columbia a province that records some of the highest numbers

  • 60% of water-related deaths happen in lakes and rivers

  • Absence of adult supervision was the leading cause of deaths in children aged 0-4

Growing up, learning to swim was non-negotiable. Mom would drop me off, I'd splash for 30 minutes every week, she'd do some reading, then we'd go home. Flash forward 24 years, I now have a career in lifeguarding, swim instructing, and lifesaving instructing.

My mother was secretly setting myself up for success while giving herself "peace-of-mind" for the times when I used to go out swimming with my friends. She knew I had the strength to move through the water as well as the knowledge to the dangers in an aquatic environment.

So, what can you do as a parent? How can you sign up? Where do you go for lessons? How old does your kid have to be?

SWIMMING LESSONS - BE CONSISTENT (Keep your kids in swimming as long as possible, it takes years)

  • Find your local recreation centre with a pool.

  • Use their local leisure guide or look on their website to find a lesson that fits your schedule

  • Don't know what level to sign them up for? Ask for an assessment! If they try and charge you, leave

  • You can start your kids in lessons at almost any age! Some pools offer parent and tot classes

  • If you can't afford swimming lessons, most pools offer a low-income option. Ask about it

  • Be consistent! The more times your kids are swimming each week, the better

  • Don't want to leave your house? If you have a pool, download a swim instructor app like: Propel or Aquamobile where you can find an instructor that comes to your pool

In the mean time, for summer, there are still many things you can do to keep your kids safe. If you're at the lake, use lifejackets, stay within arms-reach, set up designated swimming areas, and always enter feet-first. If you've got a pool at home you can fence it off, be aware of the drains, don't leave toys in the water, and always make sure there is safety equipment close by. Never let your kids swim alone.

Summertime will be here before you know it so, let's make this summer super fun and keep our kids safe!

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