Record Drownings Highlight Need for Swim Lessons

With temperatures in the Houston area still hovering near triple digits, many people are turning to pools and lakes to cool off. But unfortunately the number of drowning deaths this year is on pace to easily surpass last years number. One easy answer to all this: swim lessons. Bill Stamps has more.
(sound of a swimming instructor and kid swimming)

Learning to swim can be a lifesaver. Last year 82 children drowned in Texas. We're just half way through the year and 69 have already drowned. Ellen Manhard wants to make sure her grandchildren don't become one of those statistics.

He almost knows and the baby had a four week course.

(Alan) My grandfather has a lake.

(Ellen) He doesn't have a lake,he has a boat on a lake .

(Alan) And sometimes we take it far away. And then I always wear life vests.

(Bill Stamps) Can you swim now?

(Alan) Yes.


Manhard takes the kids to the Swim Jim pool in West Houston. Manager Courtney Berry says they're getting a lot people coming in wanting to make sure their children can hold their own in the water.

"A lot of it is for water safety reasons. We have a lot of clients who have swimming pools in their backyards or their neighborhoods, grandma's house what not. And so they want to make sure that their children are safe in the water."

It's not just children who are becoming drowning victims. Just last week a Texas man drowned after jumping into the river to save his son who had fallen. Neither of them could swim. Courtney Berry says they now offer adult swim lessons as well.

"We also have a lot of adults coming in because they want to share swimming pool time and water time with their children and they're not able to cause their currently unable to swim."

As for the kids she says usually they can learn to swim in just a few weeks...

"...If they're coming once or twice per week depending on their comfort in the water we usually get results after 4-6 lessons."

Statistics show 65-percent of child drownings are boys. Another 65-percent of cases happened in a family pool. And finally, 77- percent of the children had been missing for less than five minutes. Bill Stamps KUHF Houston public radio news.