Keeping swimming safe - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Keeping swimming safe

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

With summer in full swing, pools and water parks are very popular. Swimming experts are reminding people to take extra precaution in the water.

"Even a good swimmer can drown" says Ame Guy, the Aquatics Director at University City YMCA. "Even a vigilant lifeguard can miss something right in front of them. Parental supervision - no one watches your child like a parent. To have a parent watch a child is really the best call."

According to recent statistics, 137 children drowned in the U.S. last summer. Most of them were between the ages of two and four.

Swimming experts say an adult should always be in the water - within arm's reach of their child.

They say beginners and non swimmers should always wear U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets.

Swimmers should only be in the water when there is a lifeguard on duty. Never swim alone.

Guy, the Aquatics Director at the University City Branch, says in a matter of seconds a swim can go from fun to tragedy.

"You can get a cramp. You get in water over your head and not know it. If you get into a place where you're not familiar with the water park - that is when you get scared, you get panicky" she says.

Guy says spotting someone who is drowning is not easy.

"You don't get a hand wave. You don't get a call for help sometimes. Again, within 10-to-20 seconds you can go from the surface of water and slip below the surface without a call, without a cry, without a wave" she says.

Experts say that's why "if you're around a body of water, somebody needs to be put in charge of watching the kids. You can't always rely on lifeguards just because they're there."

How can you tell if someone is in trouble in the water?

Experts say if "a child is swimming and is making forward progress, then for some reason stops and looks like he or she is reaching out for help, or eyes are wide open - those are signs something is wrong."

With drowning tagged as the leading cause of unintentional death for children between the ages of one and four, the warning is out to keep an extremely close eye on children who are swimming.

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