Swimming safety has no age limit

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 9, 2005

Grace McCann, 6, of Greenville paddled and kicked like she had never done before Tuesday morning.

McCann is one of more than 30 children learning how to swim for the first time at the Beeland Park YMCA Pool this summer. And right beside McCann was one of five lifeguards in the pool to make sure the children are safe.

Kimberly Hittell, who is one of the lifeguards, waded behind McCann encouraging her along the way as she swam back to the edge of the pool.

Hittell like all of the lifeguards on duty at the pool, make sure each and every person is safe.

And there is no age limit when it comes to practicing safety in and around pools, lifeguard Jonathon Duke said.

"Here at the pool we take 10-minute breaks after every 50 minutes, that's a good rule not only for the young kids for adults like us," he said. "You look at how many laps (the lifeguards) swim and we need that break, too. So it makes good sense to take a break if you've been in the water that long."

Duke said that "horseplay" is another key safety concern no matter how old you are.

"A lot of kids, especially, don't pay attention to how much far they take horseplay," he said. "Some is fine, but it can get dangerous if it goes on too long."

Lydia McCullough, who has been a lifeguard at the Beeland pool for three years, said that each lifeguard stresses safety when teaching the children how to swim.

"We teach them how to tread water, how to get back on top of the water and what are the proper strokes to get around," she said. "It is so much fun to see a 6- or 7-year-old swim in the deep end of the pool, knowing you taught them how to swim."

And the rule that you should wait an hour before going swimming, is a rule that McCullough said that she encourages everyone to practice.

The YMCA will continue to give swimming lessons this summer for children ages 3 up to adult.