Because drowning remains the leading cause of death in children under the age of four, Los Angeles County firefighters once again partnered with the City of Santa Clarita and others, including Academy Swim Club, to host their third annual “Children Drown Without a Sound” Water Safety Expo on Saturday, June 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Santa Clarita Fire Station 126, 26320 Citrus St., Valencia.
“It only takes 20 seconds for a child to drown, and drowning incidents continue to occur in the Santa Clarita Valley. Children, especially those five years and younger, don’t understand the danger of falling into water and don’t usually splash, cry or call out for help,” said Los Angeles County Assistant Fire Chief Dean McGuire.
Local firefighters and lifeguards helped draw attention to water safety by demonstrating pool safety techniques in the same entertaining, fun-filled atmosphere that drew over 1,500 local residents to the station last year. They simulated the poolside rescue of a young drowning victim (Francine and Dante, both swimmers at Academy Swim Club, volunteered!) and shared a real 9-1-1 drowning call with the audience. Expo partners also provided educational activities to help local families take steps toward the prevention of drowning and near drowning.
“This year, we plan to offer an even greater family fun day for the whole community, with local food trucks, an exciting water balloon toss with firefighters, portable swimming pools and giveaways,” said Stephanie English, community services liaison for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.”
Many activities were showcased as part of the “Passport to Water Safety.” Itinerary stops included the Safer 3 Water Safety Foundation, Academy Swim Club, American Heart Association/Superior Life Support, American Red Cross, Impressions in Thread: LACoFD Clothing, National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA), Santa Clarita Life Guards (private event lifeguards), City of Santa Clarita Aquatics Center Lifeguards, Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, Castaic Life Guards, and Aqua Net, Inc. Emergency room physicians from Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles told firsthand stories of patients they treated to help encourage parents to take steps to avoid a drowning tragedy. Radio Disney performers entertained guests and distributed water safety movies, and Stewie the Duck presented morning and afternoon story time sessions to help kids learn to swim for safety.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department proudly acknowledged its many community partners for participating in this lifesaving event, including Walmart and many others. For more information about next years event, contact LACoFD Community Services Liaison Stephanie English at (661) 287-3690, or the Fire Department’s Public Information Team at (323) 881-2411.
The Academy Swim club hosted a portion of the World’s Largest Swim Lesson and Guinness World Record event for the fourth time Tuesday.
“The whole event was put together for water safety because drowning is the leading cause of death for children 5 and under in the state of California, and children 14 and under worldwide.” said Nikki Miller, president of Academy Swim Club.
The record-breaking attempt is a multinational effort taking place in nine different countries.
Volunteer swimming instructors taught the children of all ages swimming techniques by playing fun games.
Some techniques included kids floating on their back, swimming to the bottom of the pool to retrieve a diving ring, kicking, swimming out to the instructor and practicing holding their breath underwater.
“It’s going on in nine different countries. Last year, we reached more than 24,000. This year, we are going for 35,000. I’m sure we’ll make it,” Miller said
The top-three ways to prevent a child from drowning are to install pool gates and fences, constantly supervise children and teach children to swim at a young age, she said.
“I’m really happy with the turnout and that all these kids and their parents are proponents and believers in helping the community and get the word out,” said Miller
After the children completed the swim lesson, they received an award and medal for participating in the event and helping to lower the drowning statistics.
“They had fun while they were doing it,” Miller said. “And they get to tell all their friends that they broke a world record this summer.”
Written by Jessica Boyer for SCVNews.com. See the original article at http://scvnews.com/2013/06/18/kids-go-for-record-in-swimming-event/.
California remains near the top for summertime pool and spa drowning tragedies.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s national Pool Safely campaign reports that pool and spa drowning deaths among children ages 1 to 14 reached 202 during the 98 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Of those, 143 of the victims, or 71 percent, were younger than 5.
The 2013 report shows the highest summertime pool and spa drowning rates in Texas (28), Florida (24) and California (23), an increase from last year, when Texas had 17, California 10 and Ohio 9. Last year there were 137 pool and spa drowning deaths; 100 were children under 5.
The CPSC report does not include non-fatal drowning incidents or fatalities occurring in other bodies of water.
“It is tragic. Water safety education helps families understand that drowning is preventable,” said Nikki Miller, owner of Academy Swim Club and co-founder of the Aquatic Safety Awareness Program in Valencia. “Safer water with approved pool fencing and alarms, safer kids who learn to swim, and safer response, learning CPR – it’s the Safer 3 program, teaching water safety all year long.”
Pool safely officials also recommend fences for all pools, staying close to children in the water, being alert, and teaching children how to swim. Many pediatricians and physicians advise swimming lessons for families with small children.
“Both of my girls had swim lessons before 1 year (of age),” said Dr. Morris Yen of Santa Clarita Pediatrics. “If anything, it just prepared them in case of falling into swimming pool or being swept up by a wave.”
Some states have initiated pediatrician recommendations during baby well-checks as a drowning prevention measure to emphasize the importance of basic swim skills.
“It should be discussed at the visits,” said Dr. Kathleen Brockett of Valencia Pediatrics. “If a child does not have swimming lessons but everyone around him or her can swim, that child is still not safe. It is really important to teach your child how to roll over and float until help reaches that child.”
Many children and adults with autism are at greater risk.
“We are not sure why so many people with autism are attracted to water,” said Emily Iland, president of the Autism Society of Los Angeles and co-founder of the Santa Clarita Autism Asperger Network.
“Inside the house, people with autism can drown in the bathtub, the toilet, or even the washing machine because of the attraction to water. Outside of the house, they can be attracted to pools and other bodies of water,” she said.
“If we know that their attraction is to water throughout their lifespan, then the most important thing would be to have swimming lessons so if they do go into water, they can help themselves,” Iland said. “Infants can learn to swim, but maybe it is something we overlook even for adults. Especially if their fascination is with water, swimming lessons could be more important than for anyone else.”
Drowning remains the leading cause of accidental death among children ages one to five. Santa Clarita residents have many resources available – from free CPR classes to year-around swimming lessons, special needs water safety training, and bilingual water safety material. According to the doctors from several Santa Clarita medical centers, water safety techniques are a top priority.
“It’s something that is a necessity of life. If we can save one life by teaching techniques, that right there is the reward,” said Dr. Eric Fernandez of Facey Medical Group.
Visit the Aquatic Safety Awareness Program website at http://www.ASAPsocal.org for more information and links to Santa Clarita water safety resources.
Gloria Locke is a Santa Clarita resident and producer of “SCV-Arts & Entertainment,” which airs Fridays and Sundays on SCVTV. Article originally published at SCVNews.com. You can view it at http://scvnews.com/2013/09/17/for-safetys-sake-teach-kids-to-swim-commentary-by-gloria-locke/
Filled to capacity, the restaurant buzzed with commotion while camera flashes exploded in the dimly lit dining area of Buca di Beppo in Anaheim. Among the prestigious CEOs, directors, USA Swimming presidents, lifeguards, Olympic hopefuls and Olympic medalists sat a 6-year-old Santa Clarita swimmer who traveled more than 120 miles to have lunch with Olympic swimming icon Cullen Jones.
Jones is one of the fastest freestyle sprinters in the world today and holds the current American record in the 50m freestyle. At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, he was a member of the electrifying 400m freestyle relay team that broke the world record and won Olympic gold in one of the most memorable races in history.
With the victory, Cullen became the second African American to win an Olympic swimming gold medal. In 2012, Cullen competed in the London Olympic Games, where he secured a silver medal in the 400m freestyle relay and garnered his first individual Olympic medal in the 50m freestyle.
Philly, a first-grader at Rio Vista Elementary and a beginning swimmer at Academy Swim Club of Valencia, joined swim club owner Nikki Miller during the USA Swimming Foundation’s annual luncheon, hosted by Olympic gold medalists Rowdy Gaines and Jones.
The writer interviews Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones.
“Drowning is an epidemic in our nation,” said Gaines, a three-time Olympic medalist and USA Swimming Foundation ambassador. “Since 2006 the USA Swimming Foundation, through its Make a Splash initiative, has taught more than 2.5 million children to learn to swim, and to be safer around the water.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 people drown each day in the United States.
Additionally, a national research study commissioned by the USA Swimming Foundation and conducted by the University of Memphis found:
* 70 percent of African American children have low or no swimming ability;
* 60 percent of Latino children have low or no swimming ability;
* 40 percent of Caucasian children have low or no swimming ability;
* Ten people drown each day in the United States.
Ironically, Jones ad nearly drowned at age 5 while visiting a water park with his family.
“My dad wanted to get on the biggest ride at the amusement park. I came down the ride after my dad and hit the bottom where I was supposed to gently coast to the other side. I was so small, I flipped upside down. My mom hears my screams and then silence. She gains ‘superhuman strength’ and comes down the ride after me. She could not swim. So here we are. I’m drowning on the left. My mom is drowning on the right. After we were pulled from the water, I needed full resuscitation,” Jones said.
Jones, now 29, holds two Olympic gold medals and two silver medals.
The sport of swimming has been a part of the Olympic Games since inception in 1896 and is only one of five sports to compete in each Olympics. The United States has been the No. 1 swimming nation in the world more than 50 years.
“I want a gold medal. How can I be like you?” Philly asked as he searched Cullen for an Olympic-sized answer.
“It doesn’t happen overnight,” Cullen said. “You’ve got to train a lot and listen to your coach.”
Gaines also acknowledged the accolades of luncheon guest Debbie Meyer – the first swimmer in history to win three gold medals in three individual events: the 200m, 400m and 800m free during the 1968 Olympic Games when she was 16. She held 25 world records during her career.
Meyer is also familiar with a near-drowning experience.
“My 18-month-old daughter was sitting on the side of the spa,” she said. “I had my back to the spa and some little kid in the spa knocked her in. I did not know it. All of a sudden I hear her scream, and she is trying to hold on to somebody to come up. It is the scariest, scariest feeling.”
Miller, a former SCV diving coach, was compelled to open Academy Swim Club and establish the Aquatic Safety Awareness Program after a near double-drowning.
“My husband and I had gone out to lunch. After the babysitter left, I looked outside and there is a pile of wet clothes by the spa and vomit all over the deck of the spa. I asked my oldest son (age 3) what happened. He said the babysitter was on the phone when my 14-month-old toddler fell in. He said, ‘God just told me to go get him.’ So my 3-year-old went in to get him.”
As a USA Swimming Foundation Make a Splash Local Partner, Academy Swim Club has facilitated water safety events and provided year-round water safety training for infants, children and adults in Santa Clarita. Philly and his siblings began taking formal swim lessons at the Academy after Philly saw his 3-year-old brother jump into a crowded community pool unassisted, escaping the notice of the adults around the pool. After one swimming lesson at the Academy, Philly announced that he wanted to work there.
“I was 17 years old when I started swimming,” said Gaines. “It’s never too late to achieve your dream. If a child takes a swim lesson, that child’s chance of drowning is reduced by 88 percent.”
Jones agreed. “My mom was terrified of the water, but she went against the grain and got me swim lessons. You don’t see that in every family and that is what we want to change.”
“Kids have to know how to swim,” he said, “because they are going to get near water at some point. And as long as I have air in my lungs, I’m going to continue to spread this word because there is a cure to the drowning epidemic. Drowning is preventable.”
Beaming, Philly left the restaurant to return to Santa Clarita. “Cullen is the best,” he grinned, holding onto the indelible gold-medal memory of his lunch with Cullen Jones.
You can view the video segment, plus other stories, at http://scvtv.com/?p=7314.
Gloria Locke is a Santa Clarita resident and producer of “SCV-Arts & Entertainment,” which airs Fridays and Sundays on SCVTV. Article originally published at SCV News. You can view it at http://scvnews.com/2013/10/06/scv-swimmer-6-lunches-with-olympian-commentary-by-gloria-locke/ .
We like to say that we teach kids to be water smart – but what if swimming lessons actually made your child smarter altogether? This was the question posed by researchers at Griffith University in Australia – a country famous for it’s water sports. The study, conducted from 2009 through 2012, collected almost 7,000 questionnaires from parents of children under five years old in swim schools around world (including Academy Swim Club!) The researchers also independently assessed over 200 children in swim schools in Australia. Although the last year of accumulated data awaits analysis, their initial findings have been published.
Just as we suspected, swimmers are smarter.
It seems babies and toddlers that participate in swim lessons are hitting milestones ahead of schedule – and before their non-swimming peers, regardless of social or economic background. The swimmers are not just excelling physically (i.e. running, jumping, climbing trees), which you would expect from lessons that teach a physical activity, but also in the areas of cognitive and language development. Basically, early swimmers are primed to do better in school.
Not all swim schools are created equal. As the researchers noted, there is considerable variation in swim programs that may influence the quality of learning, so choose wisely when deciding where your child will receive swim lessons.
To read the study go to www.griffith.edu.au and search for Early Years Swimming.
Move over, Stephen King. Step aside, Dean Koontz. The swimmers at our annual Halloween Love’Em and Leave’Em crafted a spine tingling tale sure to make you scream.
The Haunted Swim Club
Ryan: There once was a group of kids that went to a haunted swim school.
Hunter: There was an ear sitting on the floor and it turned into a giant cheese.
McKenzie: They looked back and saw a giant spider.
Matthew: They turned around and they saw an electric eel.
Claire: Then they went and they saw a big seahorse and the seahorse’s friend was an otter.
Christian: A seal ran away but he had no flippers and he tripped and he bumped into another monkey sitting on the stairs.
Jacob: There was a dinosaur that said, “Roar!” and it was looking for a monkey.
Juliana: (She was too scared.)
Giselle: Somebody went to the bathroom and there was a dead foot in the toilet.
Ethan: They went to the pool and there was blood in the pool and it turned into a skull.
Mia: They ran out and the found a dead zombie head.
Ben: They ran back into the lobby room and there awaited a giant pumpkin.
Alex: So they turned around and saw a giant spider.
Eduardo: They were going to turn around and run the other way, then all the lights turned off. Nobody escaped the haunted Swim Club again.
It’s time to wrap up our super swim instructor. He’s cool, he’s confident, he’s in control – but he still needs that certain something. The last two members of the Avengers bring it.
Hawkeye: What he brings to the team – Focus. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but we’re going to stick with the obvious here. When it comes to kids and water, you have to watch them like, well, a hawk.
Black Widow: What she brings to the team – Psychology. Okay, super spy and assassin doesn’t exactly scream instructor of the year to me either. But one thing I realized after watching the movie was that Natasha Romanov’s super power wasn’t in her fighting. It was in her ability to get people to open up and talk to her. Some instructors are goofy, some are quiet, some are more energetic than a bolt of lightning – but they all have their sneaky little ways of gaining a child’s trust and cooperation.
Combine all of those qualities and you’ll have yourself one super swim instructor. So, to all of our ASC instructors, consider this a big, sloppy, wet one right on your cheek. We are so grateful you are here, fighting the good fight against childhood drowning. You really are our heroes.
This week we mined the past for heroic qualities to strengthen our Super Swim Instructor – and came up with gold (along with red, white and blue).
Captain America: What he brings to the team – Teamwork. The Cap is a good all-purpose super hero, but he’s also smart enough to know that he doesn’t know everything. He’ll get input from his team and assign the best person for each job. Likewise, a swim instructor may need assistance from others. If you’re having a hard time teaching a skill, someone else might have an idea that would help if you only ask. With all the experience we have in this facility, we’ve probably seen everything at least once.
Only a few more ingredients to add to our recipe and our amazing swim instructor will be complete. Stop by next week to see if animal instincts bring anything heroic to the mix.
Our Super Swim Instructor is coming together nicely – he’s got the right tools for the job and the confidence to inspire. What other quality could the Avengers loan our hero? It comes from a surprising source . . .
The Hulk: What he brings to the team – Control. Okay, the big guy may lack a little in the self-control department, but Bruce Banner – he’s got it in spades. No matter how much you love kids or how satisfying you find teaching them to swim, every now and then one is going to frustrate you. The ability to control your frustration and stress level is a necessary component of any teacher, because if anyone could change you in to a giant green rage monster, a two year old riding a sugar high and cranky before her nap would do it.
We’re halfway through the members of the Avengers and we’ve still got three hero qualities to go. Next week Captain America lays it out for us.
In our quest to build a Super Swim Instructor, we’re looking at each member of the Avengers and the qualities he or she would contribute to our life-saving hero. This week -
Thor: What he brings to the team – Confidence. It takes a lot of confidence in yourself and your abilities to take on the Hulk and expect to come out on top (well, duh – Norse deity, here). A good instructor not only has faith in himself, but instills that confidence in his swimmer. A skittish toddler takes that first no-hands leap off the side because he believes his instructor when he says, “You can do it. I’m here. I’ve got you.”
Next week – The brains, the brawn, the Hulk!