As the weather warms up, the water beckons. The Mount Pleasant Recreation Department wants to make sure local youngsters make aquatic safety a top priority while they are enjoying the Lowcountry’s lakes, rivers, pools and, of course, the Atlantic Ocean.
As part of its mission to emphasize summer safety, the Recreation Department offers both group and individual swim lessons at the Park West and Jones Center pools. Swimming should be fun, according to Molly Hubbard, Aquatics Coordinator, but it’s also vitally important to teach kids how to be safe when they are in the water.
“We’re teaching them the skill of swimming, and part of learning how to swim is learning how to stay safe,” Hubbard says. “We teach them to float and, if they get tired or cramp, how to get back to the wall and out of the water.”
Hubbard points out that the Recreation Department offers group swimming lessons at both recreation centers – one session meets Mondays and Wednesdays and the other on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Recreation Department’s late afternoon and Saturday sessions make it convenient for working parents to get their kids to the pool, too.
Lessons are available for kids of all ages and for adults as well. Babies as young as 6 months old can get in the pool with a parent, and there are programs for youngsters ages 3 to 5 and older. There’s no maximum age, but Hubbard says once swimmers advance to a certain level, they begin transitioning into other programs offered by the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department, such as the Summer Swim League.
“It’s fun and competitive. The kids are in it to have a good time. We want to make swimming a lifelong enjoyment for them,” Hubbard says. “The uppermost level is 5, when kids are really starting to develop their skills as a swimmer, and they can do every stroke.”
Whether youngsters are swimming in the Park West or Jones Center pool, or enjoying the water outdoors, the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department offers the following water safety tips:
• Always ask permission from an adult, lifeguard or swim instructor before entering the water.
• Wear sunscreen, lifejackets and goggles when necessary.
• Avoid running, pushing and horseplay around the water.
• Kids should use the buddy system, and parents should always keep an eye on their children, even if there’s a lifeguard on duty.
• Before swimming, make sure you know about any unique pool rules or environmental concerns such as strong currents or riptides.
Hubbard believes it’s important for local youngsters to learn to swim, to be safe in the water, not to panic and to know what to do if they feel like they need to get out of the water.
“There is water everywhere,” she says. “There are tons of situations where kids find themselves near water. We want to teach them that no matter how much fun it is, it’s also something to be taken seriously. We want to prevent bad situations that happen far too often. Obviously, safety is the number one priority.”