EL PASO — Even though 70 percent of the Earth is covered in water there are people who don’t know how to swim and don’t find it necessary to learn.
That attitude can drown them. “My dad threw me in when I was four,” said University of Texas at El Paso student Linda Flores, 20. “I had to learn not to panic.”
Most people can recall a scary, calm, or funny experience they had when learning how to swim.
According to a national research study by the USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis, if a parent does not know how to swim, there is only a 13 percent chance that a child in that household will learn how to swim.
There are people that do not think swimming is dangerous, but when a person drowns there usually is no call for help. The victim can’t yell underwater and it can happen even in the shallowest depths.
Studies from the Centers for Disease Control have found that a toddler can even drown in a bucket filled with water due to lack of supervision. The toddler’s head can get stuck on the way in and finding no way out, the child can slump into the bucket preventing the body from standing back up. All it takes to drown is five minutes.
In a swimming pool, teaching a children to float can save a life. Floating is the very first thing that most people learn to do when beginning to swim.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, swimming brings relaxation and releases stress in people experiencing anxiety and depression.
According to the website swimming.org, simply swimming for 30 minutes a person can get great exercise, gain energy, and burn up to 257 calories.
Gaby Gonzalez, a 21-year-old swimmer who has been swimming since she was little said, “It’s an amazing way to exercise; it’s a super fun way to enjoy the summer and even the winter. Also, it is a great way to meet new friends.”
Lifeguards at city pools are in constant alert to spot any near drowning incidents making an actual drowning an uncommon happening.
Aquatics Manager for the City of El Paso Parks and Recreations Department, Wright Stanton, said “We have lifeguards on duty. Their responsibility is to educate the people that use the facility about the rules and regulations and the reasons why we have them for safety.”
The most common incident within a pool area would be falling or slipping and if the pool has a diving board, a person can be injured while diving. A person in a pool environment should be well informed of the rules, precautions and proper behavior to avoid any accidents.
“When they first come in we’ll tell them some of the basic rules. We look at what they are bringing in, like, if they have the arm floaties we tell them they are not allowed. But all of our pools have rules posted at the main entrance so that the people that can read know what the rules are,” said Stanton.
The city had to make changes to the drain suctions in some pools five years ago because of a federal law that was passed in 2009 named after a six-year-old who drowned in 2002.
“We changed all the drains in all of our city pools in the years of 2009 and 2010 because of a new law that came out by Congress called the Virginia Baker Graeme Act, where a child drowned in a spa due to an entrapment in a drain cover. Her hair got entangled in there,” says Stanton.
A child can drown in nearly anything containing water. In the state of Texas during the years 2010 and 2013 there were 35 drownings in bathtubs according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
It is also more common for males to drown than it is for females. In the years 2010 through 2013, 242 children in Texas drowned in all types of water containers and 164 of them were boys according to Watch Kids Around Water, a website of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. According to them, the average age of children who drown is four and under.
Still, most child drownings occur in swimming pools. During the same period, 122 children drowned in pools according to the child drowning statistics from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Teaching children how to swim can prevent these tragedies and swimming lessons are provided at public pools and private facilities.
Swimming lessons are given monthly during winter, fall, and spring by the El Paso Texas Parks and Recreations Department. During the summer, swimming lessons are given every two weeks and the cost is $38 dollars for residents.