SAN ANTONIO – What better way to enjoy the hot summer than by cooling off in a swimming pool or a lake.
But the water can also be deadly, particularly for children.
So far this year, 37 Texas children, 17 years of age and younger, have drowned, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Two of those children drowned in swimming pools in Bexar County.
For children age 5 and younger, the leading cause of accidental deaths is drowning.
"Drowning is preventable," said Jami Engel of Braundera YMCA. "You have to really make sure your kids are safe and you are watching over your children."
Kids are naturally curious about water. So, teaching them early is best, Engel said.
"At 3 years old, that's really a good age for kids to become safe in the water," she said.
Even though the youngest students are unlikely to master a swimming stroke, they can learn about respecting the water and swimming pool rules. They can also benefit from lifesaving skills, like learning to roll over and float on their backs.
Beth Taylor's 3-year-old and 5-year-old daughters are enrolled in a YMCA swim class. For the kids, it's all about blowing bubbles and kicking their legs. For mom, it's deeper than that.
"For me, it's to make sure they know how to get to the edge, how to get out of the water and what to do if they are in trouble," Taylor said. "Then, they can enjoy the water more."
While swimming lessons are vital for children, Engel reminds parents they are no substitute for undistracted supervision.
"It can happen in a matter of seconds," she said. "Make sure you have your full attention on them, not on your phone or anything else."
The YMCA offers swim classes for children and adults and offers financial assistance, including scholarships if cost is an obstacle.
Free lessons are also being offered through the summer program Let's Swim SA.
The San Antonio Parks Foundation, the city of San Antonio, University Hospital System and Security Service Federal Credit Union are offering the classes free of charge at various city pools.
For more information, call 210-207-3299 or click here.