North Central News

Preventing drowning, spreading awareness

As the summer approaches, it is more crucial than ever for children to know how to swim— and it is not something that comes naturally.

Lisa Pearce, 40, a mother of 10-year-old twins, made sure to get her kids in the pool as early as possible. “I had them in the pool with me before they started lessons around the age of 3,” Pearce said.

AquaTots general manager and swim instructor Nicolas Veaco works with a student on his side stroke during a swim lesson at the 12th Street and Northern Avenue location (submitted photo).

Parents should be worried if their child does not know how to swim because it is putting them in a dangerous situation, Pearce said.

“Watching them achieve every skill was so rewarding,” Pearce said. “They would get so excited to show me their new trick and it made me feel more at ease knowing that they would be safe.”

Jessie Moreschini, 20, a lifeguard and swim instructor for the past four years at pools across the city, says water safety knowledge is the best thing that parents and kids can have going into summer.

“If they know the dangers then they know what they have to do to be safe,” Moreschini said.

Several programs are available in the Valley to kids and their parents to prevent childhood drownings or water injuries.

Local hospitals and the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona are leading the way in efforts spreading awareness about water safety, with events year-round, but especially in the summer.

“Drowning is the No. 1 injury-related cause of death for children ages 1-4 years old in Arizona,” said Tiffaney Isaacson, senior injury prevention specialist at the Phoenix Children’s Center for Family Health and Safety, one of the leaders in the Valley in trying to keep children in pools safe.

The children’s hospital staff have seen too many near-drowning victims whose lives are changed because of not knowing how to swim, and Isaacson says the hospital’s research shows their education programs are having a positive impact, saving kids lives by spreading awareness of parental responsibilities, too.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital partners with SRP to host a workshop around the Valley called Playing it Safe. This workshop provides parents with free life jackets and one-hour classes to help families create water safety plans.

The program is for parents and caregivers of children ages 5 and younger, Isaacson said, because 73 percent of drowning deaths from 2010 to 2016 were children in that age range even though they only make up 32 percent of the population of children and teens.

Due to the high summer temperatures in Arizona, many people are drawn to the water no matter what aquatic skills they possess, Isaacson points out. The Playing it Safe programs “talk about ways to reduce parent stress during swim time, through discussion of the protective factors and basic water safety.”

Since the program began, nearly 1,500 parents have attended, with close 500 parents taught since the program was improved in 2016.

Interested groups, such as HOA boards, PTOs, and other organizations that service parents with children ages 5 and younger, can contact Tiffaney Isaacson at 602-933-1712 or tisaacson@phoenixchildrens.org to arrange a class at their location.

Hubbard Family Swim School, 13832 N. 32nd St., offers helpful “Four-Day Blitz Lessons” through Aug. 2. These weekly swim lessons occur on four consecutive days in one specific week. These special swim lessons are held for 30-minutes at the same time each day. You can sign up for one week at a time. The 30-minute classes are offered Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cost is $84 per week for ages 3 and older; $120 per week for semi-private classes for ages 24-36 months. Call 602-971-4044 or visit www.hubbardswim.com.

Aqua Tots, founded in Scottsdale in 1991, has a swim school located at the southwest corner of 12th Street and Northern Avenue. Swim lessons are available in groups, from age 4 months (with parent) to 4 years and older. Levels include beginner to advanced. There also is a swim club and a swim team for more experienced children to join. For more information, call 602-753-5101 or visit www.aqua-tots.com.

The City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation also offers swim lessons to children as young as 6 months through adulthood, at is various city pools, including at Sunnyslope Pool, 301 W. Dunlap Ave., and Washington Pool, 6655 N. 23rd Ave. Summer swim lessons are offered in four sessions, beginning June 4 and continuing through July 26 (varies by location). Cost is $15 per swimmer, per session. Recreational swim and dive teams also are available. For more information, call 602-262-7165 (Sunnyslope) or 602-262-7198 (Washington), or visit https://www.phoenix.gov/parks/pools/programs.

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