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How to protect your kids during National Water Safety Month

Drowning is the leading cause of death in children between the ages of one and four years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During National Water Safety Month, three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Rowdy Gaines is raising awareness about this issue with an initiative called “Step into Swim.

Gaines said to prevent drownings it’s important parents make sure their little ones know how to swim.

“It reduces that risk by about 90 percent so if you put your child in swim lessons you have a much better chance of saving their life,” said Gaines.

He said parents should put their kids in swimming lessons as soon as they know how to walk.

“That can be anywhere from 9 months to a year and a half. You can start them off in Mommy and Me classes, but there is a way to get your child involved in swim lessons. There’s no doubt,” said Gaines.

When kids are swimming, Gaines said it’s important that parents pay attention to them.

“You are that child’s first line of defense—that adult, that caretaker—so I beg parents please keep an eye on your child because the stat is 80 percent if not more of drownings happen in front of an adult. So, it’s when an adult is present,” said Gaines.

Gaines also said parents should create barriers around pools, learn CPR and have a first-response plan.

He also said there should be a water watcher at the party.

“Many drownings happen at a party so making sure that there’s somebody always watching that pool or that water area. So, there’s a lot of different aspects in creating that joy for families,” said Gaines.

Most importantly, Gaines wants to help every child learn how to swim and he’s doing just that with “Step into Swim.” This initiative helps kids get access to free swimming lessons in their communities.

“Our goal is very simple. We want to try to create more swimmers. We want to provide those swim lessons to lesson providers around the country to teach those children, especially in those fragile neighborhoods and those low-income areas that lifesaving gift of learning to swim because drowning is much more of a problem in our minority communities,” said Gaines.

‘Step into Swim’ is part of the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance. Gaines is currently the Vice President of Partnerships and Development for the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance.

Meanwhile, Gaines is commentating on the Olympic Games in Paris, which are less than 60 days away.

Gaines was named World Swimmer of the Year in 1981. He also set world records in the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle in the 80s. Gaines then won three gold medals at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The Olympic Games in Paris will be Gaines’ ninth year serving as a swimming analyst.

Gaines said he’ll be in Paris for about a month to see all the races and events taking place.

“I love the 100-freestyle now. That’s the event that I won back in 1984, so it’s always been the marquee event in my mind. Caeleb Dressel, another popular name, who won five gold medals in Tokyo three years ago will certainly be there as well,” said Gaines.

Source: WSLS News 10

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