#childsafetytips | On The Water: New Swim School Being Readied In An Unlikely Spot

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — It will take some time and a lot of work before the Goldfish Swim School is ready to teach a new generation of swimmers, but the owners say not to wait to start teaching kids a healthy respect for the water.

On this first week of the unofficial start of summer, the water safety expert and Goldfish Swim School owner Will Graves explained that more than a year of a restrictive global pandemic has contributed to a rise in childhood drownings.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a formal warning of an increased threat in drownings due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” Graves told Patch. “According to Total Aquatics Programming data, the summer months (May-August) account for two-thirds of annual childhood drowning incidents, but because of restrictions caused by the pandemic-related closures, many children have been out of swim lessons for months.”

Drowning is the leading cause of injury death to children ages one to four—and the second leading cause of injury death for children ages one to 14, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to the drownings reported, many children also suffer other water-related injuries each summer.

It will be a few more weeks before the disused furniture store location on Weyman Avenue begins to resemble the state of the art swim center Graves envisions. In the meantime, he shared a few other key water safety tips:

Enroll in Swim Lessons:
As a result of the increased threat in childhood drownings, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids continue to safely participate in organized drowning prevention classes despite the COVID-19 health crisis, as swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88%. Lessons help increase muscle memory by practicing basic techniques for kids to use during a water emergency – such as the crab walk, properly getting in and out of the pool, going under water, rolling on their back, treading water, learning different strokes, etc.

Never swim alone:
While many of our young ones think they’re all grown up and don’t need a swim buddy, you can re-enforce this rule by explaining this rule goes for kids and adults alike. Teach your children to always have a buddy in the water – whether it be an adult or peer – at the beach, on vacation, or at home. Children can drown in as little as two inches of water, so if water is around, make sure someone else is, too.

Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-Approved Life Jacket:
Having a proper flotation device is one of the easiest ways to increase safety in the water – search for the United States Coast Guard approval on it. Pay attention to proper fit – the fit matters, because if your head or ears can slip down beneath the life jacket, the device won’t be able to work as designed to keep your head above water and allow for proper breathing. A U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket is especially important when swimming in lakes and oceans when water conditions can be uncertain and unpredictable.

Designate a Water Guardian:
Make sure to keep your eyes on your kids at all times – even if lifeguards are present. Kids are as curious as they come and are always willing to push the limits without knowing the true hazards. Designate an adult “Water Guardian” and be sure to change guardians every 30 minutes so he/she is alert and refreshed. A Water Guardian’s sole responsibility needs to be keeping an eye on the swimmers. Vigilance is key – no chatting, no checking your phone, no distractions.

Play it Cool and Follow the Rules:
Sometimes when our little ones are in play-mode, rules fall by the wayside. Review rules together as a family before letting your kids loose to enjoy the water. Pay special attention to pool hours, and always schedule your swims when lifeguards are present, if possible.

There is some extra water safety help on the way soon for Sound Shore residents.

The Goldfish Swim School will open a new 9,000 square foot learn-to-swim facility this summer in New Rochelle. The facility is currently under construction and expected to open later this summer.

The pool is still a work in progress. (Jeff Edwards)

While the new Goldfish facility won’t be ready for a few more weeks, the new location is already taking reservations. The swim school uses a perpetual lesson model so families can enroll at any time and kids can progress through the curriculum at their own pace.

In addition to swim lessons, Goldfish Swim School New Rochelle will also offer weekly family swims for both members and non-members. The newly built facility will include an air-conditioned viewing gallery for parents to watch lessons, private changing rooms, a blow dry station, snack bar, retail shop and a distinct tropical décor.

Once complete, the facility won’t resemble a former furniture store at all. (Goldfish Swim School)

“As parents of three little boys, we understand how important water safety is to all families and we know that kids benefit from participating in learn-to-swim programs from an early age,” co-owner Gillian Graves explained. “We are thrilled to bring the Goldfish curriculum, high quality instruction and state-of-the-art facility to more local families with this additional facility. Our team wants to ensure that children have a safe, fun, and friendly place to learn how to swim.”

Families can pre-register for lessons by visiting the Goldfish Swim School website or calling 914-359-5757.

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