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Letters, June 17

Swimming skills save lives

If you haven’t heard, the Daniel Meyer Memorial Pool has re-opened for business! Ashland Parks and Recreation’s plans of building a new and better pool remain in the works, though the pandemic has caused delay.

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Aware that accidental drowning is the number one cause of death in children ages 1-5 and the second cause of death in children ages 5-15, Southern Oregon Aquatic Community (SOAC) recently surveyed Ashland parents of children ages 9-12 about their child’s swimming skills.

The American Red Cross identifies these Five Basic Swim Skills (do you know them?) as: (1) Jump or walk into water over one’s head; (2) Surface and tread water or float for one full minute; (3) Turn around in a circle to determine where to get out; (4) Swim 25 yards without stopping; and (5) Get out of the water (or pool) unassisted without using a ladder. These are the skills everyone, no matter the age, who is near or in the water needs to know to save their own life if caught in a dire situation.

The good news is that 65% of the parents responding to SOAC’s survey said their child could perform all five skills. The bad news is that 23% said their child could not and 12% weren’t sure. We also suspect that parents with limited computer or cellphone access are under-represented in the survey — and their children may be the least likely to have had a chance at swim lessons. This means that 35% of children are at risk of drowning when in or near water.

We care as much about swim safety among our community’s young as we do about re-building our city pool for all ages. We are committed to supporting swim programs that remove drowning from the list of parental worries and community tragedies. We are requesting, too, that the Ashland School Board consider adding swim classes to the PE curriculum.

If you are interested in supporting and/or learning more about the proposed Daniel Meyer Pool project and how it meets Ashland’s aquatic needs, please see https://southernoregonaquaticcommunity.com.

As we head into what is likely to be another hot and dry summer, let’s all make sure that our kids are “waterproof.”

Rebecca Kay, president, Southern Oregon Aquatic Community (SOAC)

Ashland