I’m going to tell you a sad story, but there is a reason for it: A friend lost a grown child to drowning. His son had taken a few swimming lessons as a teenager, but didn’t like the water. He wasn’t a strong swimmer as a result, and one day with friends at a lake, he went in the water, got tangled in some plants, and drowned. He was in his early 20s with a bright future ahead of him, and then this. The family was devastated and it tore them apart.
Why am I leading with such a sad tale? Because summer is almost here and kids need to know how to swim—but so does everyone else.
Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death for children. But it claims the lives of teenagers and adults too. According to the CDC, unintentional drowning ranks fifth in the U.S. as a cause of death by injury, and of the 10 people on average who die by drowning every day, only two are children: the other eight are 15 years old and older.
My conclusion? Everyone should learn to swim.
It’s not too late Everyone needs to know how to swim not because we’re all planning beach vacations, but because it is a safety issue. Anyone who boats or kayaks or floats down the river on an inner tube must know how to swim. But what about an accidental fall from a dock while walking around the marina? Or participating in some water-based activity while on a trip? Or or or…? There are many situations that can lead to an unintentional dunk in deep water!
So it’s time to tackle this issue. Although you might think swimming lessons are only available for youngsters, that’s not true. And even if you took some lessons as a child, if you haven’t been in the water in the many years since, you might consider some additional lessons. Just like it’s never too late to install a home security system or start wearing a seatbelt, it’s never too late to learn to swim. Researching this post, I read about a 70-year-old who took swimming lessons!
If you don’t swim or you don’t swim very well, it’s time for some adult swimming lessons. Or if your kids didn’t get lessons and now they’re teens, it’s time to close that safety gap.
Benefits beyond safety For teens and adults, the benefits of learning to swim can go beyond safety. Swimming is a sport that’s easier on the body than running, and therefore an activity people can continue to do for physical fitness no matter their age. It’s also an activity you can do year-round, as long as you can get to an indoor pool. For those who decide they truly enjoy it, swim leagues provide opportunities for adults to compete in the sport. And for anyone who wants to compete in triathlons, swimming is required.
One final reason everyone should learn to swim If you’re not interested in being a better swimmer for your own sake, do consider the safety factor of your children. Should your child end up in distress out in the lake while you’re camping, don’t you want to have the necessary skills to be able to swim out and help or even save them? This applies to boating and kayaking and other water sports as well. In addition, children learn more by watching what we do, not doing what we say. The children who see their mom or dad take water safety seriously, including swimming, or more likely to make better, safer choices later in their own life, decreasing the risk of their death by drowning.
As for the sad story at the beginning of this post, I think about that family every year at this time as people start to flock to lakes and rivers and boats to enjoy summer activities. And yes, I need to heed my own advice. I know how to swim but definitely do not swim well. Maybe this is