If you need to learn to swim, swimming lessons are an excellent way to get your feet wet. Most of us learn organically, though, in a neighbor’s pool or even a public pool, or from visits to the beach with parents who show us the basic swimming moves. Whether you’ve been swimming since before you could walk, took structured swimming classes as a child, or you’re still looking for a way to learn to swim, there are some basic safety tips every swimmer should know.
Don’t swim alone.
Always swim with at least one friend, even if you’re just swimming in your shallow backyard pool. When you take swimming lessons, you might hear that “you can drown in a teaspoon of water.” Whether or not that’s true is questionable (a teaspoon is a minimal amount), but the point they’re trying to make is that just because the water’s not deep and you’re an experienced swimmer, doesn’t mean that you’re safe. Water that isn’t above your head shouldn’t give you a false sense of security. If you were to faint or have an intense cramp and couldn’t stand properly, that water could prove more dangerous than you think, no matter how many swimming classes you’ve taken.
No child should ever swim alone, and no group of children should swim without an adult supervising. Even kids who’ve taken swimming lessons and have been swimming since they could crawl should never swim alone or only with other children. Kids can easily get overconfident and venture into water deeper than is safe or dive into water that might not be deep enough for safe diving. An adult should always be there to keep an eye on things. Drowning is the number one cause of accidental deaths for infants and children, but it’s a preventable one.
In riptide, swim parallel to shore.
Drill this into your head, if you get swept up in a riptide, you must swim parallel to the shoreline. Swimming classes in coastal towns should stress this safety tip. Riptides are a danger for ocean swimmers. Regardless of how hard you swim toward shore, you’ll make no progress. Fear and strain have caused many swimmers to exhaust themselves and drown. If you get caught in one and can’t get back, don’t panic. Swim parallel to shore at a reasonable pace. You’ll be able to swim out of the riptide so you can swim safely back to the beach.
Don’t dive unless you’re sure of the condition of the water.
If you dive into a pool, be sure that diving is allowed and safe because the water is deep enough. Make sure no one is in the area you’ll be diving, and that nothing is floating in the pool that you could hit. Never dive into a lake, pond or natural body of water if you cannot see through the water. Check the water first, even if you have jumped in that spot dozens of times. All the swimming lessons in the world won’t do much good if you dive headfirst onto a log or other debris.
For much more detailed instruction, look at the the Red Cross Website.