By Dave Smith
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The sound of children splashing around in the water is one of the most iconic and happy sounds of summer. As long as it isn’t because of an emergency situation, that is.
The Peterson Aquatic Center participated in the seventh annual World’s Largest Swimming Lesson on June 24 at 5 p.m.
According to the WLSL website, more than 700 aquatic facilities of all kinds, and tens of thousands of kids, participated to promote the message that Swimming Lessons Save Lives, and prevent childhood drowning. The event focuses on kids, but is open to all ages.
This year the event took place during the course of a 24-hour period. This was the first year the Aquatic Center participated in the event, said Lead Lifeguard Jaimie Dietle, event organizer.
“(Swimming) safety is one of the most important things you can teach a kid, in my opinion,” Dietle said. “We are also doing it so people can see that we teach lessons here.”
The day’s lesson was based on a format provided by the WLSL. The class agenda was precise because the group submits the effort for world record recognition. Over the course of 30 minutes students will cover safety, water entry, breathing and submerging, floating skills and the basic front crawl stroke, Dietle said.
“Something like learning floating skills can be so important,” said Dietle.
Data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows drowning as the leading cause of unintended, injury-related deaths of U.S. children ages 1-4 and as the second leading cause for children younger than 14. The event’s timing was not coincidental; drowning and near-drowning events peak in summer months and historically are at their worst in June.
According to WLSL, research shows participation in formal swimming lessons reduces drowning risk by almost 90 percent among children ages 1-4, but many do not receive training. The Aquatic Center has five certified swimming instructors on staff, four of whom are also certified to teach adults.
Dietle said unintentional drowning is a significant cause of death for adults 15-54 too, primarily because they do not know how to swim. Letting adults know the Aquatic Center can provide instruction for them, and not just their children, is important in combating this preventable disaster.
For more information about swimming lessons at the Aquatic Center contact Dietle at (719) 556-4608, or visit www.wlsl.org.