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View Full Version : Inner-city kids learn to swim to prevent drowning



msgrupp
May 26th, 2008, 09:42 PM
http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=4127533n&channel=/sections/eveningnews/videoplayer3420.shtml

Somehow this just shouts out for the attention of USMS AND USA Swimming associatioin.

knelson
May 26th, 2008, 10:14 PM
I know USA Swimming has their Splash program with similar goals: http://swimfoundation.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?pid=261&srcid=183

Why isn't teaching kids to swim a requirement in school PE class? This should be a basic life skill. If the school doesn't have a pool, bus the kids somewhere where there is a pool.

stillwater
May 26th, 2008, 10:42 PM
In California, hundred upon hundreds of teachers just got thier pink slips.

I think being able to read is more in line with the responsibilities of our school system.

However, I wish for a 50 meter pool at evey high school.

knelson
May 26th, 2008, 11:56 PM
I think being able to read is more in line with the responsibilities of our school system.

You're in school for 13 years, something like seven hours per day. Seems to me they have time to teach you to read and teach you to swim.

anita
May 27th, 2008, 12:22 AM
Why isn't teaching kids to swim a requirement in school PE class? This should be a basic life skill. If the school doesn't have a pool, bus the kids somewhere where there is a pool.

Pools aren't readily accessible, especially in poorer areas.
That said, my kids went to elementary school in a depressed area.

Each year the 4th and 5th graders walked over two miles to the community college for swimming lessons for one hour, have lunch and then walk back, crossing through a very dangerous intersection. As a tax-paying parent I totally resented this for my kids' sake, who were bored by the entire ordeal, tired and sunburn by the time I picked them up. However, for the other 95% of the kids, this was the only opportunity they had to learn to swim. I was happy for them, but angry that my kids lost important instructional time so the other kids could learn to swim.
This is an important issue, sure. But it needs to be solved outside of the broken, dysfunctional public school system.

knelson
May 27th, 2008, 12:31 AM
But it needs to be solved outside of the broken, dysfunctional public school system.

But how do you do it outside school? Anything outside of school is going to be optional. As you mentioned, the downside of requiring swim lessons in school is it's sort of a waste of time for those who can already swim, but think of the number of lives this could potentially save.

dorothyrde
May 27th, 2008, 05:46 AM
I think the issue has to be availibility. Here in Illinois, pools are closing due to age and not being replaced. There are not pools close enough to bus kids to. In the rural areas downstate, the closest pool could be 20 miles away or more.

Heck, the USA swim team is struggling with pool time, and has no 50 meter pool time at all.

I also agree with Anita, the teachers are struggling with the time to teach reading, writing and math, to add commute time for swimming is not going to happen. In fact, just regular PE time gets cut at times in the younger grades(HS it is mandantory).

LindsayNB
May 27th, 2008, 08:26 AM
It would seem to me that if time is set aside for PE classes anyway that using some of that time to prevent some of those nine children drowning every day is a good investment of those PE hours.

tjburk
May 27th, 2008, 09:11 AM
Just a question.....for most of us on here.....Who taught us how to swim? Who taught us how to read?

I know for me it sure as heck wasn't any school I went to. For me it was that long lost word....Parents! When are people ever going to become responsible for their own kids and quit blaming the education system for stuff that should start right there in their own house????

Just my :2cents:

aquageek
May 27th, 2008, 09:57 AM
I would hazard a guess that most schools in the US don't have pools on site. So, then you have to cart kids to a pool, good luck with that in a public system strapped for cash. What school system is going to hassle with that liability exposure?

There is a small expensie school that once a year does this here in CLT. It's a super huge undertaking and the pool is less than one mile from the campus.

I have to agree with tjburk on this, not the responsiblity of the school system.

dorothyrde
May 27th, 2008, 10:03 AM
My parents could not afford to send us all to swim lessons(5 of us), and we were in a rural town, 20 miles from a pool, so I learned to swim at age 39. One reason I got my kids into swimming lessons was because my husband was afraid of water, as is most of his family, so did not want my kids to be afraid.

Many parents simply do not have the means to send their kids to lessons, which this woman is addressing. I watched the piece on the news this morning. She fundraises 1500.00 a month to support the lessons and currently has 64 kids in the program. She is doing a great thing, but this type of thing is tough to support, AND you have to have pool availibilty, which is not happening here in Illinois any time soon.

Class sessions for each subject in middle school is around 38 minutes each. So where is the time to bundle these kids on a bus, bus them to a pool, have them change, swim, change, back on the bus and back. It would have to cut into 2-3 class times. In our state the schools have not gotten their state aid for last year, because of financial issues, swimming is the last thing they want to try and pay for.

knelson
May 27th, 2008, 10:27 AM
A couple points:

1. The thread is about inner city kids. Major cities have pools. They wouldn't need to bus kids 20 miles. Kids living in rural areas would present more of a challenge, yes.

2. It doesn't take that long to teach someone to swim. Maybe this would be a program that, for example, all 3rd graders do one hour a week for a few weeks. In the overall scheme of someone's school career, that's not a lot of time.

I don't think creating a program like this would be easy. You've got to get the kids there and back, even if the pool is close. You have to secure the pool time which we know isn't always readily available. I just think the benefit would be huge.

aquageek
May 27th, 2008, 10:35 AM
A couple points:

1. The thread is about inner city kids. Major cities have pools. They wouldn't need to bus kids 20 miles.

2. It doesn't take that long to teach someone to swim. Maybe this would be a program that, for example, all 3rd graders do one hour a week for a few weeks. In the overall scheme of someone's school career, that's not a lot of time.

Obviously you've never been involved in anything remotely like this if you think it's simple. It's a huge undertaking. And, if you are talking a big city, it's tens of thousands of students, hundreds of volunteers. And, please remember that most inner cities have a complete lack of pools these days. If the kids can't swim, you have to get one swim instructor per about six kids plus guards on duty.

I think Ys are much better equipped to handle such outreach things as this, with the staff and experience in aquatics. I can't even imagine the mayhem that would occur if you put public schools in charge of this type of program.

One hour a week? What fantasy land is that? It take 20 minutes to get them on the bus, 20 minutes to get them back on the bus after the session, about 20 minutes in the locker room goofing off plus the time to the pool and back and the lesson time. Minimum of 3-4 hours for this undertaking per session. That doesn't even take into account the enormous planning and administration behind something like this.

Leave it to the Ys, or, better yet, the parents.

knelson
May 27th, 2008, 10:49 AM
I meant one hour per week in the pool. Yeah, I'm assuming it would amount to probably a half-day of total time each week. And I never said it would be easy.

I thought I recalled Seattle has a free lesson program, so I looked it up:
http://www.seattle.gov/parks/aquatics/LearnToSwim/public.htm

It looks like the way they've done it is leave the responsibility to the parents. They send the voucher to all third and fourth graders' homes and it's up to the parents to actually get the kids to the pool for the lessons outside school hours.


Leave it to the Ys, or, better yet, the parents.

Well, that's the current system and it obviously hasn't been working for everyone.

aquageek
May 27th, 2008, 11:08 AM
My university required a swimming proficiency "test" before you could graduate. It was very basic but did make a person exhibit basic survival swimming. It was dropped a few years back. I always thought that was a good idea. If you couldn't pass the test, they had classes to get you proficient. Rumor has it Chris Stevenson flunked it the first 3 times.

slknight
May 27th, 2008, 11:13 AM
I thought I recalled Seattle has a free lesson program, so I looked it up:
http://www.seattle.gov/parks/aquatics/LearnToSwim/public.htm

It looks like the way they've done it is leave the responsibility to the parents. They send the voucher to all third and fourth graders' homes and it's up to the parents to actually get the kids to the pool for the lessons outside school hours.


Maine actually has a similar program for skiing. :laugh2:

http://www.winterkids.org/passport/

dorothyrde
May 27th, 2008, 11:36 AM
The woman who this news piece is about said that it never occurred to her to get her kids lessons. She said that fear of water had been passed down from generation to generation in her family. It was not until her teen son drown that she realized that kids need to learn to swim. So, having it in the schools, if feasible would be a good choice, although simply not available. In Urbana, once they built their indoor center, they have been able to offer swim lessons to their kids. A good thing.

Y's offer a water safety course twice a year, and our Y gives coupons to the participants for a session of lessons. It is geared toward the people who cannot afford lessons, and is taught by volunteers(I have taught it for many years). It is scary that these kids that come into my class seem to think they know how to swim, but are far from water safe.

stillwater
May 27th, 2008, 11:37 AM
"You're in school for 13 years, something like seven hours per day. Seems to me they have time to teach you to read and teach you to swim."

Perhaps "they" can't swim either.

Swimming has been a huge part of my life and I encourage participation, however, it isn't the duty of a school system to teach children how to swim.

The focus these days is on test scores. We wouldn't want anyone to be left behind.

knelson
May 27th, 2008, 11:57 AM
The focus these days is on test scores. We wouldn't want anyone to be left behind.

I sense a little sarcasm here, but I'm not clear on whether you think the current focus of schools is correct or not. I think it's obvious schools need to focus on traditional academics such as reading and math, but physical education is also part of the school curriculum. Doesn't it seem like teaching kids to swim is more important than teaching them how to play kickball?

chowmi
May 27th, 2008, 12:07 PM
What is the take-a-way for USMS?

From a club level, here is a cut & paste from Dallas Aquatic Masters website:

Special Events
Overcome your fear of water (http://www.conquerfear.com/classes/vacationdallas.shtml) - DAM Head Coach Jim Montgomery and the Transpersonal Swimming Institute have teamed up to offer a proven class that teaches afraid students to overcome fear in the water - shallow & deep, pool and ocean - and to swim. If you know of anyone that is afraid to swim and wants to learn to prevent panic or overcome this fear, call Jim at the DAM office 214-219-2300 or email him at montgomery@damswim.com .Visit the Conquer Fear site for more information. (http://www.conquerfear.com/classes/vacationdallas.shtml)

A few years ago, I asked Jim why there was so much focus on all the non-competitive programs our club was offering, and why they didn't encourage entering swim meets more. His answer was that there are more people interested in learning to swim and swim basics than competitive swimmers. I think that is true - if 1800+ enter nationals, and there are about 43k registered USMS, then the vast majority are in it for something else. Those that compete already take the intiative to join a club, whereas the bulk of new membership will occur with people who want to learn to swim.

From an LMSC level,..can someone answer this? I think USMS has some sort of grant or financial award to LMSC's that develop a program and sustain it - I think last year's winner was the only entrant and it was for a pilates program? Or something like that? I would think that starting a program to help adults learn to swim/overcome fear of water, etc (disadvantaged? disabled? retirement community? etc) might fall under that umbrella.

scyfreestyler
May 27th, 2008, 12:11 PM
A local high school, the one my wife graduated from as a matter of fact, requires each student pass a swim test to graduate. Carmel High School. Carmel, California. Of course, they have a pool on site.

If there is no pool on site then it's my opinion that the parents need to take the initiative to get their kids water safe. The more you rely on the system to take care of you, the worse things will be.

chowmi
May 27th, 2008, 12:17 PM
About the USMS endowment fund:

http://www.usms.org/admin/lmschb/lmsc_hb_endowment.pdf

About last year's winner: the LMSC got $2,000 and was asked to include a "how-to" guide re: the pilates program.

http://www.usms.org/admin/minutes/endow-2007-9-27-1.pdf

2fish&1whale
May 27th, 2008, 12:36 PM
Here is what our school district is offering.
All 1st, 4th and 9th graders get 10 days(this is done on consecutive days) of swim instruction in leu of gym.
The HS has a pool and all kids are bussed to the facility for the lessons.
I have seen kids that were scared or timid about swimming come back and try out for the mini/swim team that practices at the same pool.
Given, swimming is a fairly well supported sport in our region with several schools having pools.
If your SD has a pool for HS sports and they are not offering swim instruction as part of the PE curriculum for elementary kids then you need to raise the issue with the school board.

aztimm
May 27th, 2008, 12:43 PM
My college also required all first semester freshmen to know how to swim before they registered for their 2nd semester. They had to do something like a 25 or 50, any stroke, as long as they completed it, in like 2 or 3 minutes. There was a class for those who couldn't. But the instructor of that was pretty bad. It turned out that the water saftey instructor class took most of these kids and worked with them 1-1. I had a guy who wouldn't even get his feet wet. It was hard to understand, but I got him to pass the test after 3-4 weeks. Just taking the time to teach him to get in the water, do some kicking, etc did the trick.

I lifeguarded at a water park near Allentown, PA one summer in college. It is convenient for bus groups from both Philly and NYC, and we got many of them, filled with inner city groups. Many of these people had never seen a pool before, and didn't know the whole concept of swimming (some thought they could just float). Days at the 12 foot deep pool with slides got pretty interesting. Many of the guys were very athletic, and fought as we'd try to save them. Heck, I even had to jump into 4-5 foot water after people came out of a slide and were disoriented (and some knew how to swim), when they could just stand.

I myself learned to swim when I was about 4 or 5. I'm also from a large family (7 children), but my parents thought it was important enough for all of us to at least know how not to drown. Even in a rural community, we had a community pool about a 5 min drive away; which turned into a 15 min bikeride or 20 min walk (cutting through yards, fields, and woods), getting to lessons at 7 or 8am.

swimnjim
May 27th, 2008, 12:56 PM
Wow, what a fascinating discussion topic. And so many opinions.You would think getting parents and communities to understand the importance of teaching every child to swim would be easy, but good luck. Fear of the water from previous generations, lack of funding for instructors and inability to convince school administrators that this should be a priority are road blocks. Communities that traditionally have pools and better socioeconomics have more swimmers than those that are resource poor. It is not secret that drowning rates are higher amongst minorities and that these populations generally lack access to water and more so swim lessons. YMCA First Wave, USA Swimmings SPLASH, the Josh Project, Swim Oakland are all programs that are trying to deal with this issue but until there is an all out publicly funded effort with resource allocation it will never be enough. In the early 1900's 11 people per 100,000 that swam drown, today it is 1 per 100,000 people, as an industry we have come along way, but until parents protect their kids better, public learn to swim is free and lifeguards do a better job of protecting bathers this will always be a problem.

aquageek
May 27th, 2008, 01:19 PM
I did a quick look at some stats and about 4K people a year drown, give or take. Roughly 10-15% of those are aged 4 years an under so about 3.5K people a year drown once they enter school and above. It's definitely a problem, no doubt. I don't think it belongs in schools, especially given the relatively low number of pools at schools. I'd hazard a guess that if your HS has a pool, it's not in the inner city and probably most of the kids at that HS can already swim.

I'd propose we instead make all 3,7,10th graders take a semester course in eating right. With 1 million deaths a year from heart issues and diabetes, I bet we could get a bigger bang for the buck there. But, it might negatively impact gull's take-home pay.

anita
May 27th, 2008, 02:13 PM
I just looked online for local programs which do outreach to the schools for swimming lessons. I found that along with my kids' old school (which had a grant through the City of San Diego), the YMCA does offer two schools here lessons during the school day via busing.

The Y also offers underprivileged kids a chance to participate in resident camp during the summer, which includes swimming. My husband and I make an annual contribution to this effort. If this is important to you, as it sounds like it is to many participating in this thread, I encourage you to do the same.

stillwater
May 27th, 2008, 02:24 PM
"I sense a little sarcasm here"

Sorry, I meant a lot.

I am embroiled in the battle of what do we want our children to learn, and how do we want them to learn. I don't mean to be rude.

I share your concern for the needless deaths due to drowning, yet swimming is a perk. It is not the State or Federal Government's duty to teach swimming. Thier mandated pass/fail test might be a disaster.


Anywho, if 50 meter tanks were in abundance, the world would be a happier place.

swimnjim
May 27th, 2008, 04:52 PM
McClymonds High School in West Oakland has a pool so does Castlemont High School in East Oakland, these pools are in the "inner-city" I operate these pools for the school district in the summer, I also have two other Oakland High Schools using my City pools that are adjacent to their sites in the winter. Our problem isn't access to facilities.

dorothyrde
May 27th, 2008, 06:59 PM
yes, but Chicago, New York, St Louis, this lady was from Michigan, so possibly Detroit. I think California is more apt to have pools then other parts of the country.

Trichica
May 28th, 2008, 01:13 PM
At the ripe age of 40, I decided to learn how to swim--why--because I wanted to do triathlons. I could not put my face in the water--did not know how--did not know how to take a single stroke.

So many people looked at me as if I had 3 heads when I said I did not know how to swim. So along the lines of "inner city" and availaibility to swimming--here it goes. I came to this country at a very young age. My dad was promised a job--not here, but he stayed. Dad (the CPA) washed dishes and floors at a restaurant. Mom who was always a housewife went to work at a factory. Two college educated people did whatever it took to put food on the table--yes I remember those days vividly.

Fast forward, they have their own businesses; NEVER took any aid from the government; and thanks to them, my brother is a surgeon, I am an attorney and we have NO student loans thanks to our parents who have been extremely successful after working their tails off.

So while we were growing up, I never swam, nor did I ride a bike. (I do not even know if where we lived there was a town pool.) My parents could barely get us someone to look out for us while they tried to make a better life for us. As we grew older and our situation much improved, my brother and I had focused on other sports and swimming did not dawn on us. (Except my brother who had to swim to graduate from RPI)

So I can very much see why swimming in the inner city may not be the thing that parents do with their kids or where they may spend their money in order to get the kids lessons.

All that being said, Asphalt Green in NYC where I swim Masters has a GREAT benefit each year just for this--it is called The Big Swim. Here is a link to the NY Times articel on the event and info about the event below.

Sometimes, depending on your circumstances, swimming is not the first thing on your mind.....

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/19/health/healthspecial/19swim.html


And here is a blurb about it.....

Asphalt Green. Some of the biggest names in Olympic swimming and diving were the headliners at Asphalt Green's Seventh Annual Big Swim, held on April 20 and 22 in New York. Among the Olympians attending were swimmers Rowdy Gaines, Dr. Ron Karnaugh and David Fox, as well as divers Mary Ellen Clark and Kent Ferguson. The Olympians presented awards to the winners at the meet and were available to have photos taken with all the children. The Big Swim Benefit raised funds for Asphalt Green's waterproofing program, a partnership with the New York City public schools that teaches low-- income children to swim.

swimnjim
May 28th, 2008, 05:34 PM
There are lots of pools in almost every major city for example:

New Yorks 5 Boroughs are home to: 34 outdoor pools, 12 indoor pools, 24 wading pools, 19 mini-pools and 5 diving pools

Chicago park District has 26 indoor pools and 51 outdoor pools

St Louis has 3 outdoor and 5 indoor pools and the indoor pools are open year-round and offer free swimming and free lessons to everyone.

Trichica
May 29th, 2008, 09:21 AM
Even if your town had 75 pools and they were all free, the big presumption is that the parents can take the kid to the pool.

My mother worked endlessly and thru illness. My mother did not spend her summers by the pool with the kids--she was working and so too was my dad.

Yes, I guess you can say, kids go to the pool and let the guards take care of you--I guess--but I would think that would be a tad of a problem.;)

Time--if you need to make money to buy food and clothes your kid, that is your priority--working and where your time is spent.

That was just my experience.

swimnjim
May 29th, 2008, 04:02 PM
Wow