SAFETY COMES 1ST FOR SWIMMERS: Children and adults will benefit from lessonsMar 09, 2021 09:34PM ● By ANN MARIE O’PHELAN
Florida residents, snowbirds and tourists all realize it is extremely important to know how to swim—wherever you are in the Sunshine State. It encompasses 8,436 miles of shoreline, more than 3,000 lakes and thousands of miles of canals; the city of Cape Coral has more than 400 miles of canals. Backyard pools are commonplace. The necessity of learning how to swim is compounded because of the amount of water, water everywhere.
Swimming is the fourth most popular sport in the U.S. and is the No. 1 recreational sport for children and teens ages 7 to 17. Tragically, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in Florida for children ages 1 to 4 and can occur in under 2 minutes.
“In addition to the safety aspect, swimming is also one of the most effective forms of exercise,” says Paul Rapp, Lee County Parks & Recreation supervisor at the North Fort Myers Community Pool. There, swim lessons are available for children as young as 6 months old, and for all ages. Adults can enjoy water exercise and aerobics classes.
Swimming and water exercise are good for one’s cardiovascular system, and they help build endurance and increase muscle strength. They can help one maintain a healthy weight and are easy on the joints.
“It’s also a great way to reduce pain because water is a weightless environment that takes the pressure off your joints. If you suffer from stiff joints and sore muscles, water exercise can help improve range of motion that will allow you to move better with less pain,” explains Erin Eagle, a lead lifeguard with the City of Cape Coral Parks and Recreation.
The Cape Coral Yacht Club Pool offers swim lessons for ages 3 to 12: ages 3 to 5 are Sea Sprites, 6 to 8 are Sea Stars and 9 to 12 are Swim Stars. An Angel Fish class is available for special needs children 3 to 8 years old. Plus, water exercise classes are available for adults.
What’s also great about swimming and water activities is that they are pastimes that can be enjoyed with friends and family. They are terrific ways to meet others who participate in the same classes.
And when you learn to swim, you inspire others to do so as well. The more people who know how to swim safely, the safer the water is for everyone.
Ann Marie O’Phelan is a Southwest Florida resident and a regular contributor to TOTI Media.
SWIM SAFETY TIPS:
- Avoid swimming alone. Backyard pools present hazards, including the strong suction of pool vents that can entrap body parts or hair. Or a swimmer could hit his or her head and get knocked unconscious.
- Do not drink and swim. According to the World Health Organization, alcohol consumption is one of the leading contributory causes of adult drownings.
- Beware of fast-flowing waters such as rivers and lakes with currents. It’s easy to become swept away. For the same reasons, also beware of areas with riptides, which are strong currents in the Gulf of Mexico and ocean.
- Do not go swimming if tired, dehydrated or not feeling well. It takes strength and endurance to swim. If in doubt, swim in areas with a lifeguard and where the water is slow-moving and shallow. Unless you know how to swim well, wear a life vest.
IF YOU GO:
Check for availability of lessons and activities at these public pools. Class sizes are reduced to help ensure social distancing, and other measures may be in place. (Private lessons in your pool are offered by Aquamobile, 888-950-7946; aquamobile.com and by Sunsational Swim School, 888-788-2140; sunsationalswimschool.com.)
FGCU Aquatic Center
10501 FGCU Blvd. S., Fort Myers
Fort Myers Beach Community Pool
2600 Oak St., Fort Myers Beach
Lehigh Acres Community Pool
1400 West 5th St., Lehigh Acres
North Fort Myers Community Pool
5170 Orange Grove Blvd., North Fort Myers
Pine Island Community Pool
5675 Sesame Drive, Bokeelia
Sanibel Recreation Center
3880 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel
San Carlos Community Pool
8208 Sanibel Blvd., Fort Myers
Sun Splash Family Waterpark
400 Santa Barbara Blvd., Cape Coral
(Locations throughout Southwest Florida)
Tice Community Pool
4515 Glenwood Ave., Fort Myers
Wellness Center of Cape Coral
636 Del Prado Blvd., Cape Coral
Yacht Club Community Pool
5819 Driftwood Parkway, Cape Coral
YMCA - Bonita Springs
27200 Kent Road, Bonita Springs
YMCA - Fort Myers
1360 Royal Palm Square Blvd., Fort Myers