Summer Swimming Safety Could Save Lives - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

06/07/04

Summer Swimming Safety Could Save Lives

David McCoy shows children how to stay safe in and around the water. The YMCA instructor has been teaching kids to swim for the past eleven years.

This is the busy season for the so called "swimming guru" of Ocean Springs.

"Where do you kick from, your ears?", teased David McCoy, as he began another children's swimming lesson.

After nearly a dozen years of teaching, McCoy is quite comfortable around the children. His big challenge is getting them just as comfortable with the water.

"Good job! Get them over your head!", he encouraged one young student.

McCoy's children find fun in the pool, but the basic instruction can be a life saving lesson. A few years ago, a three year old with just a week's worth of McCoy's swim lesson, remembered to tread water after slipping off a pier.

"The boat was too slick to get on and he couldn't reach the dock. And he tread water until a six year old saw him and threw him a life jacket. And, we don't know how long he tread water, that he learned just in that one week," the instructor explained.

Sharon Jones wants her six year old to learn those same skills. Matthew had some swimming lessons last year.

"Because of the area we live in. And he loves to swim. He loves the water and it's great exercise," said Jones.

Statistics support the significance of early childhood swimming lessons. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death among children under age 15. Plus, an additional five thousand children are hospitalized each year due to drowning related incidents.

Dionne Coulter has some extra incentive for bringing her two daughters and a niece for swim lessons. The family has a pool at home.

"They were fearful of the water, so last year we had one month of swimming lessons which worked out perfectly. So, this year they're doing a whole lot better. I see a lot of improvement," Coulter said.

"Okay, out of the pool. We'll see you tomorrow. Have a good day," said McCoy, as he dismissed class for the day.

The instructor says children should be taught to swim at an early age. The Ocean Springs YMCA offers an introductory swimming class called "Baby and Me" for six month olds and their parents.

By Steve Phillips

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