The American Academy of Pediatrics advocates that everyone should learn to swim and that participation in formal swim lessons can reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning deaths by 88 percent. A local swim instructor and competitive swimmer shared her passion for swimming and the importance of promoting lessons at an earlier age.
“I think it’s really important to [participate in] swim lessons because it’s a big confidence boost for the child, especially if they are scared at first,” said Gabrielle Velez, swim instructor at Windridge Country Club.
Gabrielle has been a competitive swimmer for most of her life and is a collegiate athlete at Campbellsville University. Mirroring the AAP’s recommendations, she urges parents to avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties.”
“Many use floaties and that’s kind of a false sense of security,” Velez said. “It’s really important that they learn to swim on their own at a young age for both safety and confidence.”
Children who have had some formal swimming instruction may be at a lower risk of drowning and lessons are tailored to the child’s age and appropriate skill level.
“It’s up to the parent or child but I’ve had children as young as 10 months old in lessons get acquainted with the water early on, so they are comfortable with it. I’ve also taught those as young as 2 how to swim,” Velez said. “It’s really just depending on how comfortable they are with the water.”
Velez described children who think they know how to swim based on being able to swim the length of a pool but hopes to educate that the right techniques and life skills are a necessity.
“A lot of times they are wearing themselves out more than necessary so if they get themselves in a situation where they are tired they don’t know what to do so that’s a big part of swim lessons,” Velez said. “If they get in a situation where they are tired, it’s about teaching them what to do. I definitely feel like it’s a life skill.”
Learning to flip over on their back is one of the many skills Velez and other local instructors teach kids of all ages.
‘This summer, more than any, I have kids that are just absolutely afraid of the water, so the biggest thing is to gain their trust,” Velez said. “I think it’s really important to build a relationship with the child first and very slowly ease them into it within their comfort. They’ll be more willing to do those things they are afraid of.”
Owensboro offers a variety of options for swim lessons this summer.
Windridge Country Club – Instructor Gabrielle Velez
Private lessons based on availability for $20 for a 30-minute lesson
For more information click here.
Group lessons available
Jul 08 to Jul 19 or Jul 22 to Aug 02
$35 for members or $95 for non-members
To register click here.
Private lessons are available. The cost for four 30-minute lessons for children ages 16 and under is $80 for members and $96 for non-members.
To register call 270-688-4772
Owensboro Parks and Recreation
Group lessons beginning again July 8-12
$56.00 for packages at both Combest and Cravens Pools
Click here to sign up.
For more information on the AAP’s safe swimming tips visit their website.