Swim lessons for young children could save lives - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Swim lessons for young children could save lives

Drowning is the leadingcause of death for children according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. That's why one Columbus family tells News Leader9 that they're not wasting any time teaching their little one to swim.

She doesn't talk nor walk,but 11-month-old Mariam is diving in... well floatingher way to water safety.

"I want Mariam to getuse to the water," say Sara Showalter, Mariam's mother. "I want her to feelcomfortable in the water, and not be afraid of it."

As the weather heats up, many families head tothe pool to cool down, but experts suggest you need more than just a swimsuitto enjoy the water.

"I teach them watersafety, getting in and out of the water, where lifeguards are posted. Justsafety in and out of the water," say Columbus Aquatic Center InstructorBelsha Palmore.  

Nearly 7,000 Americanchildren die from drowning each year, and very young children are particularlyat risk. 

Palmore works with babiesas young as six months, and she says it's never too early to take a dip.

"It's less stress onthe parent," she says. "It's less stress on the child, because you don't wantthem to be afraid."

Showalter says, "Ithink she did a lot better today, because yesterday she got a chuck of my hairand held on for dear life."

Today, Mariam is laughing,waving, and responding to well to going partially under water.

Experts say that learningeven basic water skills, such as floating or paddling for a few feet, may helpsave a child's life. 

"She was a lot morerelaxed to today. I'm pleased to see that she's already beginning to feel morecomfortable in the water," says Showalter.

Palmore says babiesMariam's age are not expected to swim just yet. She says parents should alwaysstay close by.

"They're going toneed assistance. But they're fine with holding their breath, closing theirmouths, the basics," Palmore says.

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