Ozark, AL - A small backyard pool in Ozark has been doing big business this summer. About 150 kids are taking advantage of swimming lessons taught there by the Boys and Girls Club.
“Our goal is to drown proof every one of our children,” said Lonnie Groomes, Executive Director of the Ozark Boys and Girls Club.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning is the 5th leading cause of accidental death of all ages. With no public pool, many kids in Ozark don’t have the opportunity to learn.
“Throughout the summer we’ve had a few that they’d start from not getting in the water to swimming all the way to the deep end. 12 feet,” said junior lifeguard Skylar Wolff, 13.
They start with the fundamentals.
“You should never swim alone. Always swim with a buddy. Don’t swim late at night. Be safe around water,” said Groomes.
“How to glide and kick and don’t be scared of the water,” said one student.
“Keep my body straight, don’t stiffen up, and keep my head down,” another student added.
These kids are learning more than just the swimming basics. They’re being taught techniques that could help others if they are struggling to stay afloat.
“It could be one of their family members a friend. You never know. There’s so many people that drown every year. It may be something simple like wade out into the pool or throw and towel out to someone. Just very simple things you could do that might save a life,” said Groomes.
The kids are soaking it all in. When asked what they would do to save someone, they were quick to answer.
“In case they’re panicking, you can tell them to backstroke,” said another child.
“Throw a towel or something out there and pull them in keeping your weight back towards the wall.”
“This year we’ve learned about lifeguarding. I think it’s been pretty fun. “
They’ve been giving swimming lessons for the past 7 years. Groomes says they started with four weeks of courses. Now, they’re up to ten.