CRESTVIEW — Amiira Walker, 5, laughed as she eagerly splashed after a plastic bracelet her mom, Katie Wilson, tossed in Foxwood Country Club’s pool one recent afternoon.
“She loves the water,” Wilson said. “We’ve been here three hours, and she’s not ready to get out. She’s been going to the pool since she was a baby.”
Starting children swimming in their infancy is ideal, Crestview YMCA aquatics director Sarah Traver said.
“Getting your child in swimming lessons early on is the key,” she said. “We start ours at 6 months and get them used to the water.”
Swimming lessons are essential, especially in north Okaloosa County, where ponds, streams, rivers and lakes are prevalent, Traver said.
“The No. 1 thing for safety is to enroll in a swimming class,” she said.
SAFETY AROUND THE POOL
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advises homeowners with pools to install a fence at least 4 feet high to prevent drowning.
“The best thing is to have a safety gate,” Traver said. “Not everybody does that, and it’s not required, but it’s a good safety precaution.”
Fences should have no foot or handholds, the commission stated. Gates should open away from the pool and be self-closing and latching.
Bars should be no farther than 4 inches apart, according to information provided by local Cox Pools representatives.
“Always swim with a partner,” Traver advises. “Never swim alone. Have a swimming buddy. That’s the No. 1 thing we always tell our kids.”
If another swimmer gets in trouble, don’t jump in to rescue them, she said.
“Never go in to save someone,” Traver said. “(Extend) something to them. No matter how well you think you can swim, a panicked person can pull you under. Throw, don’t go: That’s what we teach.”
Crestview YMCA aquatics director Sarah Traver offers these swimming safety tips:
• Enroll children as early as 6 months old in swimming lessons
• Swim with a friend; never swim alone
• Have a responsible adult — preferably one trained in lifesaving — watch swimmers during a swimming party
• Read and follow pool or beach rules
• Never enter the water to help a swimmer in trouble; instead, throw or extend something — such as a stick, towel or oar — to the swimmer
Call 689-999, or visit 298 N. Wilson St. for information about swimming lessons at the Crestview YMCA.
Contact News Bulletin Arts & Entertainment Editor Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org.