Report: More than 50 percent of Americans can't swim

BALLWIN (KSDK) – It's the second-leading cause of death for children, but experts say it doesn't have to be. So a national campaign is underway to prevent drowning deaths. And, the staff at area pools are eager to help.

The campaign comes just in time, as most pools are opening for the season this weekend. For some, it will be just the first weekend at the pool of many more to come.

Teri Downs and her kids will be at their Ballwin pool just about every day this summer. And the mom of seven won't have to worry. Because she says not teaching her kids to swim was not an option.

"I had a cousin drown in a pool in their backyard. So, no, I always made sure that mine were going to know how to swim," Downs said.

It is a tragic lesson to learn, but, an important one, say the experts.

"Learning how to swim is a life skill that everyone needs to know how to do," said the Aquatic Manager at the North Pointe Aquatic Center, Adam Peper.

But, according to the Red Cross, 54 percent of Americans can't swim. It's the main reason the organization says an average of 10 people drown in the U.S. every single day.

"Everyone has the potential to enter the water, or fall into the water. And knowing how to swim is a great thing to be able to save yourself," Peper said.

So, the North Pointe Aquatic Center in Ballwin is one of many swimming facilities on a crusade to teach people to swim, with the message it's never too late to learn.

"You can be 80 years old. We've had 80-year-old patrons coming up wanting to learn how to swim," Peper said.

And lessons start at North Pointe for babies as young as six months old. For young children, other precautions are necessary, like life jackets and extra sets of eyes.

Downs spent her fair share of days keeping a close eye on little ones. And, now that her kids are older, those swim lessons have paid off in more ways than one.

"I get to lay back now and enjoy it and read a book and check the internet and enjoy the sun," Downs said.


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