Making a splash

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July 21, 2016 12:00 AM

Red Cross trained swim instructor, Mahala Kiss, teaches kids the importance of water safety at this year's swim lessons, which take place at Sandy Beach Regional Park each year during the third week of July.

Kids get summer schooled in open water safety

The water is cool, and community swimming lessons are in full swing at Sandy Beach Regional Park.
Each year the lessons are taught during the third week of July, and teaches kids water safety from the beginner level of sea otter, all the way to level 10, so kids know how to be safe around the open water.
Nine-year old Jonah Lopez, who has made it to level nine, said the lessons are fun and he’s learning how to do different styles of swimming.
“I signed up because I can learn to swim different, so I can swim faster,” he said.
“It’s good to learn to be safe around water because if you’re in an emergency, you can remember what you learned and you can use some of the skills.”
He said besides different swim styles, he’s also learned about safe boating and what a person should bring when planning to go on a watercraft.
Lopez’s mother, Michelle, is a volunteer organizer for the lessons and said Red Cross certified instructors are hired to teach the children, also offering components in CPR and First Aid.
She said the lessons are valuable for the kids because swimming is a life skill for all kids, and in most cases, especially when at lakes, swimming is an
unsupervised activity.
“Just recognizing water safety, water hazards, the idea of distance swimming—you see something and think you’re going to swim to it and it’s much farther than anticipated,” she said.
“So just the overall aspect of safety that you cannot get when you’re in a four walled pool.”
Some of the different things students learn are the basic front and back floats, all of the different strokes, what to do when you see lightening near the water, and the importance of always having a buddy with you when you decide to take a dip. 
Instructors also try to stress the importance of telling someone when and where you’re swimming, and also provide information on general outdoor safety, which is again, much different than going into the pool.
Lopez, who’s in her third year being involved with the lessons, said the number of people that signed up this year has sky rocketed.
There were 49 kids who came to learn about water safety this week, with the number in 2012 clocking in at only 20.
“Lots of repeat families are coming out and their bringing people with them,” she said.
“This year we used Facebook as a main area of advertisement and that was really
successful.”

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