BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Research shows drowning is the second most common cause of death in children ages one to fourteen years. The risk is greatest in children under four. So you may want to consider signing your little ones up for some formal swim lessons this summer.
Danny Walton has been a swim instructor at the Biloxi Natatorium for the past seventeen years. He knows firsthand, how a few lessons in the water can help save a child's life.
"Getting your child in the water early will help them be comfortable in the water and not panic if they do fall in," explains Walton.
The American Academy of Pediatrics just came out with new recommendations that children start learning how to swim as early as age one. The Biloxi Natatorium offers classes specifically for infants and toddlers, and Walton encourages all parents to consider enrolling their children.
He says, "Swimming can really be fun. And you can start them as early as 6 months all the way up to adults. But a prime age to teach a child to swim is two, two-and-a-half, because they can comprehend. They know what you're talking about. They listen to you really well."
Depending on the age of the child, Walton says he teaches everything from free style and back stroke to simple things like blowing bubbles and floating on their backs. The key is making it fun. Also, parents are required to participate in the infant and preschool classes.
Walton says, "Each child is different in the water. So you know your child - get em in, see what they feel like. If you don't feel comfortable getting them in the water, get them some lessons."
But keep in mind, lessons are only one layer of defense -- parents should always be around to supervise.
"Pay attention to your kid anytime you're around in the water. Get in the water with your child, don't just sit on the edge."
The infant and preschool aquatics program, or IPAP, begins Monday, June 7th, at the Biloxi Natatorium. Biloxi residents can register for $30. Non-Biloxi residents pay $50. For more information, call 435-6205, or check with your local parks and recreation department.
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