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Red Cross Dives Into New Season of Swim Classes

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As people are gearing up to enjoy summer by the pool, the American Red Cross ready to provide the skills needed to safe in the water.

Several Red Cross “Learn to Swim” programs have begun across East Tennessee. The classes teach more than 2 million people how to swim every year.

A national survey conducted by the Red Cross has found that more than half of all Americans either can’t swim or don’t have basic swimming skills. Many residents of East Tennessee will participate in water-related activities this summer, yet statistics show that most people are not equipped to play in the water safely.

According to the CDC, there is an average of 10 drownings per day in the United States, with twenty percent of those involving children fourteen years of age or younger; likewise, drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury or death for all ages. With this information in mind, the Red Cross is kicking off its 100th year of swim safety education by encouraging people to learn about water safety, and—most importantly—to learn to swim!

The Red Cross currently offers four major types of Swim Lessons. The first type is Parent and Child Aquatics, which is geared toward parents with children under the age of three. It gives parents safety information and teaching techniques to help orient their children to the water.

Next is Preschool Aquatics for children about four or five years of age. It teaches skills such as how to go under water and swimming on the front and the back.

Third, is the Learn to Swim Program. This program teaches children and adults aquatic skills such as diving, fitness swimming, and personal water safety.

Finally, the Red Cross has introduced a program just for Adults which focuses on basic aquatic skills and strokes and offers instruction on fitness swimming.

Because eighty percent of drownings involve individuals age fourteen and above, volunteer Health and Safety Instructor Mary Franklin encourages adults to enroll in swim lessons. She says, “You are never too old to learn how to swim.”

Safety in the pool is not just about being able to swim, it also has to do with making smart decisions when near the water and being prepared in case of an emergency. Red Cross Swim Lessons equip each participant with knowledge that can help prevent water-related injuries, such as ‘do not rely on air-filled or foam toys as safety devices’ or ‘always swim with a buddy.’

Additionally, Franklin says that many people do not know how to safely respond if someone is drowning. “Most people’s first instinct is to jump in the water after them,” she says, “But that’s the wrong thing to do. At the Red Cross, we teach that bystanders should ‘Reach or throw, don’t go,’ and other techniques that could save lives.”

Red Cross swimming courses are available through several partner agencies including City of Knoxville Parks and Rec, Lenoir City Parks and Rec, City of Kingston Parks and Rec, and UT Aquatic Center.

The Red Cross has also lauched a swim app this Spring. It is available on the Apple Store or through Google Play.