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"World's Largest Swimming Lesson" to Help Prevent Drowning

The Altoona Campus Aquatic Park is one of several locations participating in the World's Largest Swimming Lesson. (Iowa Department of Public Health)
The Altoona Campus Aquatic Park is one of several locations participating in the World's Largest Swimming Lesson. (Iowa Department of Public Health)
June 24, 2016

ALTOONA, Iowa – Swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent among children aged one to four.

To cap off Drowning Prevention Week, the Iowa Department of Public Health is offering the World's Largest Swimming Lesson today in Altoona, as part of a nationwide program.

"They'll do some basic things like blowing bubbles in the water, front float, back float, how to get in the water properly, how to get out of the water properly,” explains Debbi Cooper, a senior environmental specialist for the Iowa Department of Public Health. “It's very, very general. But we really hope to raise awareness about the importance of swimming lessons."

Cooper says her department is hoping to help break the record by being one of many lesson locations across the U.S.

The World's Largest Swimming Lesson begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Altoona Campus Aquatic Park.

Besides learning to swim, Cooper says everyone, regardless of age, needs to know the importance of “watch, learn, wear,” when it comes to drowning prevention.

"Watch your children at all times when they're around any type of open water,” she cautions. “Learn CPR and first aid and then always remember to wear your life jacket when you're around open bodies of water."

Cooper says, fortunately, no one in Iowa has drowned in a swimming pool so far in 2016. However, no matter where you're swimming, she says it's critical to keep little ones nearby.

"Always watch your children around water,” she stresses. “For toddlers, keep them at arm's length."

Cooper says there've been a few dozen drownings this year in Iowa in ponds, lakes and rivers that could have been prevented.


Bob Kessler/Scott Herron, Public News Service - IA