Experts say young children should be taught to swim to prevent tragedy

Officials are investigating the near-drowning of a 7-year-old boy at an East Brunswick water park Monday afternoon.
The boy remains in critical condition. It is one of several near-drowning incidents this summer. Experts say that it can be avoidable and that children should be taught to swim at a young age.
Alecia Bicher says that her 6-year-old daughter Sydney has always been at home in the water. But she says that she wanted to make sure her daughter knew the proper way to swim.
“She thinks, ‘I can just jump in and I’m fine. I can hold my breath.’ But she forgets about what happens when she comes up, so we wanted to make sure she knows how to get to the side of the pool,” Bicher says.
Elite Gymnastics swim instructor Karen Stevens says that children can be taught to swim as young as 6 months old, in order to get them used to the water. She says that the first lessons include how to float and how to find the wall in the pool.
“God forbid they fall in, they know the wall is back there. I’ve had parents come back to me and say they were right there, their 18-month-old fell in and they were turning to the wall as their mom was reaching for them,” Stevens says.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, drowning is the leading cause of death for kids 1 to 4 years old. The group says that pools are where it is most likely to happen. Experts says that they urge parents to make sure there is always a designated adult watching each child around a pool.
The group also says that kids 5 years old and older are more likely to drown in open water such as ponds, lakes and rivers.