BE THERE: Free pilot program teaches students to swim

BE THERE: Free pilot program teaches students to swim

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM)- Learning how to swim could one day prove to be a lifesaver for young students participating in a pilot program in Muscogee County.

Kiawanna Dowdell's 5-year-old son is taking free swimming lessons at the Aquatics Center along with his classmates.

"It's a great opportunity for him to learn during school hours," Dowdell said. "And he's doing really well. They've been going every day and he's learned a lot."

The students walk from Rigdon Road to the center Monday through Friday due to the close proximity of the facilities. Their lesson on swimming is from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

"I never thought it would happen during school time and for free," Dowdell said. "It's very convenient...I come every day and watch him."

The learn to swim pilot classes are for two weeks Kindergarten classes from three Muscogee County schools are participating through March of next year.

Wynnton Arts Academy and St. Mary's Road Elementary School will also take part in the lessons.

It's all part of a pilot program initiated by Dr. James Worsley, Director of Columbus Parks and Recreation. Athletic Director for Muscogee County Schools Todd Stanfill is on site when the students are swimming.

"It's to get kids comfortable with water, develop and understand water safety and what good habits in water are and then again as you said, ultimately save lives," said Stanfill.

According to the CDC, about one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger and for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency care from being under water.

Copyright 2015 WTVM. All rights reserved.