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

Swim lessons for young children could save lives

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Drowning is the leading cause of death for children according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. That's why one Columbus family tells News Leader 9 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 floating her way to water safety.

"I want Mariam to get use to the water," say Sara Showalter, Mariam's mother. "I want her to feel comfortable in the water, and not be afraid of it."

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

"I teach them water safety, getting in and out of the water, where lifeguards are posted. Just safety in and out of the water," say Columbus Aquatic Center Instructor Belsha Palmore.  

Nearly 7,000 American children die from drowning each year, and very young children are particularly at risk. 

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

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

Showalter says, "I think she did a lot better today, because yesterday she got a chuck of my hair and held on for dear life."

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

Experts say that learning even basic water skills, such as floating or paddling for a few feet, may help save a child's life. 

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

Palmore says babies Mariam's age are not expected to swim just yet. She says parents should always stay close by.

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

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