I don’t even remember learning how to swim.
My parents took me to a Boston-area YMCA when I was a toddler, and signed me up for lessons every summer at a town beach in New Hampshire. My dad, who had once worked as a lifeguard, provided additional tips and pointers.
It wasn’t until I got a little older that I realized how fortunate I was.
Many Americans don’t know how to swim.
According to a 2014 survey by the American Red Cross, nearly half of U.S. residents don’t know how to perform “five core swimming skills,” such as jumping or stepping into water over one’s head, returning to the surface to tread water or float for one minute and swimming 25 yards.
This might not seem like such a big deal.
After all, nobody’s obligated to go swimming.
People who don’t know how to swim can always stay on dry land, and thus avoid any situation where they might have to tread water or swim 25 yards.
Unfortunately, the statistics suggest that not knowing how to swim doesn’t stop people from swimming.
Every day, about 10 people die from unintentional drownings, making it the fifth-leading cause of unintentional injury death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It might sound obvious, but if we want to reduce the number of unintentional drowning deaths, we need to increase the number of people who know how to swim.
Which is why I’d like encourage parents to sign their children up for swimming lessons this summer.
Many Capital Region communities offer lessons at pools and beaches. So do organizations such as the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Schenectady and…
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