Swimming season in Forsyth County: How to safely beat the Georgia heat

Ben Lacina

Busy Lakeside Swimming Pool(Photo/Getty Images)

(Forsyth County, GA) Summer is quickly approaching and Georgians will flock to their local pools to get out of the house and escape the heat, but health officials are urging swimmers to learn and practice proper swim safety.

The last week of May is promoted as Healthy and Safe Swimming Week in order to spread awareness of the proper safety measures necessary to ensure a safe swimming experience for all.

While swimming is a fun summertime activity, it does not come without its risks. According to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in children ages one to 14 years old - behind motor vehicle crashes - and is the number one cause of accidental death in children between one and four years old.

Experts say the younger the child, the more susceptible they are to accidents in the water. A trip to the neighborhood pool without the proper swimming skills, swim gear, and adult supervision can quickly spell out danger.

Learning Early

Swimming Lessons(Photo/Alecia Warneke)

This is why Forsyth County’s Alecia Warneke, owner and swim instructor at TruGrit Swim Gym, believes understanding safety precautions is vitally important.

“The importance of kids learning to swim is literally a matter of life or death,” Warneke said. “It is never too early to begin getting them acclimated to the water, and start learning these skills.”

Warneke says that children just three years old are at a great age to start learning these skills. Children can be familiarized with floating and breath holding in the pool or bathtub even earlier. Facilities like TruGrit Swim Gym, the Forsyth County Family YMCA, and Swim Kids all provide services to teach children proper swim safety to prepare them for the pool.

But knowing how to swim is just part of the equation. Warneke emphasizes that a parent’s responsibility extends far beyond just teaching your child how to swim.

“Just because they are wearing a floatation device or are older, does not mean they don't need supervision,” Warneke said.

When Tragedy Strikes

This is a reality that became all too real for Susan from Forsyth County. On a family vacation in 2020, her four year old grandson was spotted lying at the bottom of the pool in which all of the family’s children were playing. Susan’s daughter immediately pulled him out and the boy survived with no lasting physical or mental damage, but the event has left a lasting impression on Susan and her family.

“This was the most traumatic event of our family’s lives, and still affects us today,” said Susan. “We were blessed to have others at the poolside who assisted in CPR and chest compressions to save his life.”

She knows that this incident was preventable.

“Looking back, there were several red flags,” Susan said. “[Us] adults were relaxed, it was nearing dusk, and the older children were playing in deep water where my grandson went to find them. We believe he slipped in the pool trying to get their attention.”

While this was a hard lesson learned for her family, it does not have to be for yours. Swim instructors like Warneke emphasize the importance of teaching children about pool rules and safety and why they matter before even putting them into a pool. This, combined with a watchful eye of supervision, greatly reduces the chances of any preventable accidents.

“Drowning is silent and quick,” Warneke said. “If your child goes under, your only clue will be a set of huge frantic eyes looking up for help.”

If you have news tips in Forsyth County, email benjaminclacina@gmail.com.

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Ben Lacina's writing experience allows him to tackle a myriad of subjects and stories. His background in science helps him use his writing experience to translate complicated topics into understandable content for a wide audience.

Athens, GA

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