Sunday 15 September 2019

Basic swimming skills can prevent water tragedies, leading children's swim school advises

Credit: Water Babies
Credit: Water Babies
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

A leading toddler swim school has warned parents about the importance of children learning to swim at an early age.

As the warm weather continues, Water Babies said that water-related tragedies can be easily prevented if children have basic swimming skills.

Chloe Sargent Oliveira (2) from Kildare saved herself when she fell into a cold swimming pool in Portugal last September. Chloe was playing in the kid’s pool which came up to her waist, when she slipped forwards and went face-first into the water. 

Her mum was sitting by the pool with her baby brother and before she could react, Chloe had turned herself over, manoeuvred to the edge to pull herself up and carried on playing quite happily.

Water Babies said that the skills Chloe learned at their swimming lessons allowed her to save herself from the life-threatening situation.

Three-year-old Rowan Murray who was also a member of Water Babies saved himself when he fell overboard from the family’s houseboat into the Grand Union Canal in the UK.  Despite wearing a thick flying jacket, Rowan managed to stop himself from sinking by adopting a star float and waiting patiently for his mum to pull him out of the water.

“I was chatting to Rowan, but didn’t see him fall over the edge, so when I looked up he had vanished.  I ran to look for him and saw him lying calmly on his back, which not only stopped him sinking, but also meant I found him faster,” said Rowan’s mum, Serena.

Carol McNally of Water Babies said: “We believe that babies should be introduced to the water as early as possible, so they are less likely to experience fear if they do fall in.  In most cases it’s the shock of sudden submersion that causes children to panic.”

The Irish Water Safety also called on people to be careful when swimming as almost 40 children have died from drowning in the last decade.

“If warm weather tempts you in, make sure you know exactly where you can get out safely. Waters are still cold and if your muscles cool, you'll have little energy to get back safely to shore,” they warned.

They advise staying close to the shore and to be aware of currents and cooler waters. They also urged parents to supervise their children when near water.

In 2014, 114 people died from drowning, 37 of which were under 14-years-old, according to Irish Water Safety.

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