DETROIT (WXYZ) — According to information reported to Huron-Clinton Metroparks, Detroit residents and people of color are not as skilled as others when it comes to swimming.
The metropark compiled the reported information in a "State of Swimming" report. The report highlights a "swim gap" that can be directly correlated to a lack of access and opportunity.
To combat this, Huron-Clinton Metroparks is now part of a regional effort to help break down barriers that deal with transportation, lack of swim gear, and access to pools.
The initiative also aims to prevent drownings and swim injuries for metro Detroit kids.
"It's basic swim training," Alicia Bradford, director of the Wayne County Parks Division said. "They do things like dive for the brick, but learn how to breathe and, importantly, how to learn how to float."
Included in the efforts are the city of Detroit Parks and Recreation, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Wayne County Parks, Macomb Family YMCA and Friends of Rutherford Pool in Ypsilanti.
Bradford says the goal is to help children enjoy the water but also know how to stay safe.
The free swim lessons will be offered to about 1,000 children across Southeast Michigan.
Registration is expected to begin next week. For more information on the program, click here.
Anna Anderson, a swim and survival swimming instuctor for infants and young children at Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) Great Lakes offers a lot of helpful advice to parents hoping to avoid water accidents. Some advice includes avoiding blue or green swimwear for your child as it won't be easily visible if your child is under water, or worse, drowning.
Anderson said parents should also know CPR and have a phone with them in case of emergency.
Anderson's passion for keeping little ones safe comes from her own past experiences. Years ago, her oldest son nearly died in the water. He was four.
"I was a diligent mom—I was a really diligent mom," she said. "I'm going to tell you how to prevent it from happening. I want to tell you what parents can do to make sure that they're not that parent standing there at the water."
ISR has a list of key elements for water safety. Some include:
- Effective supervision - The most critical line of defense is adult supervision. No level of aquatic skill can replace active supervision. If your child is ever missing, look in the water first.
- Pool fences - Install a permanent four-sided fence with self-locking gates. Ensure that the pool fence is at least 3 to 5 feet from the pool edge.
- Alarms - Make sure all doors and windows leading to the pool are locked and alarmed.
- Survival swimming lessons - A moment's inattention does not have to cost a child his life. ISR's Self-Rescue training is an added layer of protection, teaching your child water survival skills in a completely safe environment.
- CPR - If an emergency happens, it is essential parents and families are prepared. Learn to perform CPR on children and adults and remember to update those skills regularly.