Lifesaving Society Urges Mandatory Swimming Lessons

There are renewed calls to make swimming lessons part of the school curriculum.

Speaking on AM800's the Lynn Martin Show, Public Education Officer with the Lifesaving Society Barbara Byers says the goal is for all Canadian children to learn to swim by the time they graduate from elementary school.

She calls swimming a life skill.

"It is never too late to learn to swim and, as a parent, even if you are not eligible, if your child isn't of the age for 'Swim To Survive', it is so important to enroll them in lessons," says Byers.

Byers says Windsor and Essex County are very strong participants in the program. It is aimed at Grade 3 students and teaches them to roll into water, to tread water and swim 50 metres.

Regardless of swimming ability, Byers warns parents need to keep an eye on their children at all times.

"Put your phone down. You can't text or look at your phone and watch your children in the water at the same time," says Byers. "It is impossible, You can't see them and you can't hear them if you are on their phone."

Byers debunks the notion that a swimmer who is drowning will call for help.

"Unlike those old movie clips, where you see people waving their arms screaming 'Help, I'm drowning," says Byers. "Well that is Hollywood and if a person can shout and scream they are not drowning. They may be unhappy, they may be in distress and they may need some help but they are not drowning, When someone is drowning, their airways fill with water and they can't speak."

The call for mandatory lessons comes after several recent of drownings in Ontario and Quebec.