Common Swimming Misconception #3: Do You Have The Facts?

At Aqua-Tots Swim Schools, our mission is about more than teaching children how to swim; it’s about educating communities worldwide about the importance of water safety, and that starts at home, with those who love children the most: parents, grandparents and caregivers. With that in mind, we offer you part three of our series addressing common misconceptions parents have around the water, according to a study done by Safe Kids Worldwide.

Read Common Misconception #1 here.

Read Common Misconception #2 here.

The Facts:

  • Nearly 800 children drown in the U.S. annually, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
  • Drowning is the #1 cause of injury-related death among children ages 1-4, and the #2 cause for children up to 14, according to the CDC.

Misconception #3: If there is a lifeguard present, I don’t need to worry as much about actively supervising my child in and around the water.

According to the survey, “Eight out of ten parents surveyed said having lifeguards at a pool is an important safety measure, but more than half (56 percent) think that, when present, a lifeguard is the primary person responsible for their child’s supervision at the pool.”

Lifeguards have a tremendous amount of responsibility while at work, and many factors play into their effectiveness to keep children safe: Time of day, level of experience, number of children in the water and adult-to-child ratio. Horseplay and running around the perimeter of the pool can make the job of a lifeguard even more challenging, causing distraction when there should be undivided attention.

Many would be surprised to know that the role of lifeguards is not, in fact, to “supervise” the children, but “to scan the water and in the event of trouble, rescue and resuscitate.” Lifeguards are expected to “scan 180 degrees, every 10 seconds, from top to bottom, from right to left,” according to mystatesman.com. Fortunately, settings where lifeguards are present increase the likelihood of a positive outcome in the case of an emergency.

With that in mind, it is easy to understand the important role parents play in protecting their children in and around the water, even when a lifeguard is on duty. Lifeguards should not be viewed as babysitters, water attendants or substitutes for parental supervision. They are teammates, another layer of protection, valuable assets, and trained professionals in case of a life-threatening situation. The unparalleled attention and cognizant eye of the parent is invaluable around the water.

Here are a few tips to remember when swimming with children.

  • Get in the water with small children. Even if they know how to swim, remain within an arm’s reach or safe distance in case of an emergency.
  • If your children are older, constant supervision is still necessary.
  • Unplug around the pool. The world’s largest lifeguard association has warned that parents absorbed in their cellphones is a growing problem. Reading, texting and talking can wait.
  • Designate/rotate a Water Watcher to ensure that a responsible adult is supervising the children at all times.

At Aqua-Tots, we are committed to teaching children worldwide the life-saving skills of swimming as early as 4 months old. That way when your family is at the pool, you can focus on fun…together.

Enroll your child in swim lessons today!