LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — It’s the heart of summer right now, meaning many kids are ready to cool off and have some fun in the pool.
It’s the time of year where places, including Aqua-Tots Swim Schools in Lexington, are jammed packed with families ready for the water.
Since 1991, Aqua-Tots has offered swimming lessons to the community under an oath to make everyone that walks in ‘water safe.’
“Our mission is to bring water safety education to children and families in our communities around the world. We are not just a water safety program. We are also a learn to swim program,” said Aqua-Tots general manager Hannah Griffiths.
“We start as young as four months and up to adults but our average age is up to 12-year-old children.”
Griffiths has seen a wide array of skill level in young swimmers over the years and finds it rewarding to see kids go from fearful to fun-loving in the water.
“When you get a kid that comes in screaming and crying and they start to adjust, build trust in you and they feel confident in the water on their own, it’s the most rewarding part about this job,” Griffiths said.
Kimberly Hubbard considers the last four years coming to Aqua-Tots rewarding as well.
Her two daughters, ages five and two, have taken part in consistent lessons to learn what Hubbard considers to be a vital skill.
“I believe that swimming is an important life skill. It’s a necessity. Just relying on life vests or arm floaties is really hard. I just think it’s really important to get it done early so they have that life skill forever,” Hubbard said.
While swimming can be fun, if it’s not done safely, it can be dangerous.
Over the last six weeks, two kids have died from drowning in the Lexington area, a six-year-old in Madison County in May and a 23-month old in early June.
Griffiths called these unfortunate events in our community and reignited the mission she lives by at Aqua-Tots to educate people about water safety.
“Drowning is the number one cause of death in children ages 1-4. We’ve actually found that 85% of drownings happen when there’s a parent or adult around,” Griffiths said.
“Drowning can happen in as little as 20 seconds. We know it’s something that can happen very quickly especially if we don’t have those proper precautions around the water.”
Keeping kids safe in the water is not only about knowing how to swim, there is more that parents and guardians should keep in mind to protect young swimmers.
Aqua-Tots leaders live by their own version of the ABC’s to educate people about water safety.
“A stands for adult supervision. Making sure that parents know that they always need to be watching their child around the water regardless of their swimming ability. B stands for boundaries. If you have a pool at home making sure you have a fence or locked gate. Also informing your child of the boundaries and the respect they need to have for the water. The C stands for classes. We’ve found that consistently coming to swim lessons reduces your risk of drowning by 88%,” Griffiths said.
“We want to make sure parents can put their kids into some form of swim lessons, whether that is here or another place in our community, just so their kids can be water safe.”
Hubbard appreciates Aqua-Tots approach to swimming education and while she is saddened by the recent drownings, she doesn’t place blame anywhere because it’s a disaster that could impact anybody.
“It can happen to anybody. It could happen to my 5-year-old who swims really well. I do appreciate that Aqua-Tots teaches the safety around the pool and in the pool first instead of just the swim skills.”
According to the CDC, kids 1-4 years old have the highest rate of drowning among any age group, most of them happening in swimming pools.