Who is safe in the water now? What do we need to tell our kids when they go to a swimming pool or when they go swimming in a river with their friends? We’ve talked about it. On the other hand, how safe are our kids in the swimming lessons? What is the responsibility of us, the coaches? Does every coach have to have a completed training for a lifeguard and the first aid training, regardless of having lifeguards at the pool?
There are a lot of questions, but the answer is only one: The swimming should be taught by professional staff only, in every aspect. Because our kids should be safe and secure in the water and around the water. It is pointless to be a philosopher and look for someone to blame once a bad thing happens. And yes, we all bear the responsibility.
Every swimming coach should educate his/her swimmers. Since, prevention, and safety come first:
Teach the kids about the basic life-saving skills through games: Including turning to a side, turning to and in the water, floating with and without props, and behaving after a jump or a fall into the water. Let them swim with their T-shirts on and without goggles and improvise a scene to make them learn how to help a friend in the water. Today, even babies are taught these skills.
Remind your children they’re not lifeguards: Every time you have a chance, remind the kids that they’re not lifeguards, and that it is important to protect themselves first, to avoid a double tragedy. Remind them that if there are no lifeguards around, or an adult who can give a hand, the first thing they should do is to find a floating object (a board, a ball, a plastic water canister) or a rope (a T-shirt, trousers, a belt, a branch..) to reach the drowning person.
Gain their trust: The kids should feel safe with you and to trust you. It often happens that kids, who are for some reason afraid to get into the water, want to get into the water only with the coach, or a parent.
Simulate the worst scenario: What to do with unruly kinds jumping and not listening to you repeating the same thing over and over again.. The coach is the «boss» at the pool. Try to create a scene with those kids, in which you could exemplify what can happen to them, regardless of them being beginners or swimmers. When you let them «choke» on water, with a professional supervision, you will teach them a lesson, for their own safety and for the safety of the others at the pool.
The coach and the «doorman»: The coach is the last one to leave the pool and «lock the door». The entire responsibility lies with him/her. If there is a lifeguard, then he/she is that person. The coach is certainly there to check if some of the kids might have returned to the pool because he/she forgot the goggles or fins, and it happens. Trust me, there have been fatal outcomes.
Have another pair of eyes on your back: Every coach should foresee a number of situations and have another «pair of eyes on his/her back»! It’s necessary to always supervise not only your group of swimmers, but also the kids next to the pool or in a swimming lesson of another coach. Keep an eye on the visitors next to the pool as well, since a tragedy can occur in a second.
Drowning in the water often comes quietly and takes away those we love very quickly. Once it happens, nothing can be done. This is why you should never take your eyes off your child when he/she is close to or in the water, because a second of your negligence can be fatal!
The responsibility, of course, does not lie only with the coach, but all of us. This is why you should educate your coaches and let them educate the kids. But don’t forget to educate the parents as well. Keep in mind that every prevention, education on safety in the water, can save somebody’s life!