Swimming Lessons in Tulsa and Water Safety Tips
Ahhhh….summertime and the livin’ is easy. School’s out. Popsicles and pool days are in.
Though this time of year can be carefree, there are certain safety issues for parents and caregivers to be aware of as the mercury on the thermometer rises. Tulsa-are experts weigh in on some common dangers and how we can all enjoy a safer summer.
Kids wait all year long for the moment they can cannonball into the local pool. But even for the strongest young swimmers, swimming pools pose serious risks.
The number one rule of swimming safety is “active and constant supervision” according to YWCA East Aquatics and Fitness Manager Lacey Caywood. “When drowning happens, it’s not like on TV,” she says. There is none of the dramatic screams for help and thrashing about. “It’s usually silent and can happen in a split second.”
For the littlest water babies, it’s important that parents keep their child within arm’s reach at all times – even in the baby pool. Top-heavy infants and toddlers can easily get knocked over in the shallowest of water because of bad balance, Caywood notes. “Their heads go under and arms flail to the sides” rendering them helpless to get up.
For older, more proficient swimmers, active and constant supervision is still necessary. Additionally, Caywood suggests discouraging children from playing “breath holding games” in the pool. A dangerous consequence of these games is “shallow water blackout” where a child becomes unconscious from hyperventilating and as a result experiences a near drowning or, in the worst cases, drowns.
Teach your child to always swim with a buddy, she notes, and to take a rest when she is feeling fatigued from water play. For parents and caregivers, in addition to being physically present and alert when a child is swimming, Caywood says it’s always good to know CPR in case an emergency occurs.
There are also a lot of misconceptions as to what constitutes a proper safety device in the water. Water wings, pool noodles or even kids’ body suits with attached floaties are NOT sufficient, though they can be a great aid in helping little ones gain confidence, she adds. Caywood says that if a child is a non-swimmer and out of your reach, he should be wearing a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket in the water. Such jackets will be marked with a stamp indicating certification and are available at major retailers in the summer season and sporting goods stores year round.
One of the best ways to encourage pool safety, according to Caywood, is to enroll your child in swim lessons. Particularly for the youngest tots ages 1 to 4, participating in swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent, she cites. The YWCA offers swim lessons year round for all ages at both its Midtown and East locations, including Mommy & Me, using the American Red Cross curriculum. More information is available at YWCATulsa.org.
And remember how your mom always chastised you to “not drink the water” at the pool, lake or splash pad? Turns out, as with many other things, she was right! Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI) – a group of diseases caused by swimming in or inhaling contaminated bodies of water is very real, with its most common symptom being diarrhea, says Kaitlin Snider, spokesperson for the Tulsa Health Department (THD).
Kids should be instructed from the youngest ages to not swallow the water, she notes, as chlorine and pool chemicals do kill germs, but not as instantly as you think. To lessen the likelihood of contracting or spreading such a disease, “keep the pee, poop, sweat and dirt out of the water” she says. For healthy kids, THD suggests an hourly restroom break and swim diaper check. Though it’s hard to miss out on the fun, “if your kid has diarrhea,” says Snider, “keep them out of the pool.”
It’s also important to assess the quality of water in which you’ll be swimming. Whether at a public pool, a hotel or a friend’s house, Snider notes, you should be able to see the drain at the bottom of the pool. If you can’t and it’s murky, it’s likely a breeding ground for germs you don’t want to meet.
Tulsa Area Swimming Lessons
Eastern Oklahoma Red Cross
Designed for those ages six months to adult, Red Cross swimming classes can equip you with the skills needed to swim with confidence. In addition to providing instruction for various Red Cross providers, you can find water safety information at www.redcross.org/take-a-class/swimming.
Bixby Swim Club
Location: Bixby High School, Between 151st and 161st off of Riverview Rd.
To sign-up: Go to www.teamunify.comokbsc
Bixby Swim Club is a year round swim club for all levels.
Jenks Community Education
Location: Jenks Trojans Aquatic Center, 205 E. “B” St., Jenks
To sign-up: Call 918.299.4415 x4353 or go to www.jenkscommunityed.com
Youth Swim Lessons are for children ages 3 and above. Must be potty trained.
Learn2Swim at Health Zone (Red Cross Provider)
Location: Saint Francis Health Zone, 6161 S. Yale Ave., Tulsa
To sign-up: Call 918.494.8289 or fill out the registration form at www.saintfrancis.com/health-zone.
Classes are available for children ages 6 months through 12 years.
Location: 10642 South Memorial Dr., Bixby
To sign-up: Call 918.364.8500
LifeTime Fitness offers a continuous swimming program for all ages (members only).
Miller Swim School
Location: 6415 S. Mingo Rd., Tulsa and 515 W. 91st St. (Jenks)
Contact: Call 918.254.1988 or go to www.millerswimschool.com
Miller Swim School offers a variety of swimming lesson options for ages 6 months and older.
Oral Roberts University, Denise Westfall
Location: 7777 South Lewis Ave., Tulsa
Students are grouped by age and ability – beginner (2 years old) through advanced swimmer and competitive stroke.
St. John’s Siegfried Health Club
Location: Siegfried Health Club, 1819 E 19th St
To sign-up: Call 918.744.2484 or go to www.stjohnhealthsystem.com
St. John’s offers a variety of swimming lesson options for ages 6 months and older.
Location: Union Natatorium, 10100 E. 61st St., Tulsa
Class placement is based on ability, and children advance independent of others (ages 4 and older).
Tulsa Parks (Red Cross Provider)
Location: 175 E. 2nd St., Suite 570, Tulsa
To sign-up: Call the individual community center or go to www.tulsaparks.org
Tulsa Swim Academy (SSB Kids!)
Location: SSB Kids, 1700 N. Redbud Pl. in Broken Arrow
To sign-up: www.ssbkids.com or 918.258.5437
Tulsa Swim Academy offers a variety of swimming lesson options for ages 6 months and older.
Location: Various YMCA locations
To sign-up: ymcatulsa.org/swimlessons
The YMCA offers a variety of swimming lesson options for ages 6 months and older.
Location: YWCA Midtown, 1910 S. Lewis Ave. and YWCA East, 8145 E. 17th St.
To sign-up: Go to www.ywcatulsa.org
The YWCA offers a variety of swimming lesson options for ages 6 months and older.