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Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, YMCA of Greater Kansas City reminds people to swim responsibly

Swim safety at the YMCA of Greater Kansas City
Posted at 6:34 AM, May 21, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Drowning deaths are on the rise in America after years of decline, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC reports 500 more drowning deaths occurred per year from 2020-2022 compared to 2019.

That is why the CDC and the YMCA of Greater Kansas City push for people of all ages to know how to be safe in and around bodies of water.

Some of the big tips from YMCA aquatics director Sabrah Parsons are to ask permission before entering the water, make sure someone is always watching you while swimming and have floating devices on hand.

"Even as experienced swimmers, it's critical to ensure that you're still swimming with supervision. Also making sure we're aware of breath control and not holding our breath for long periods of time," Parsons said. "Probably the most common thing that affects active swimmers is drowning that is a result of breath control issues.”

The CDC’s Vital Signs study released on May 14 showed the groups at a higher risk for drowning are children in the 1 to 4-year-old age group, adults 65 and older of all races, as well as Black people of all ages. Those groups also saw the greatest drowning death increases since 2019.

“Basic water safety is so critical to having the ability to be around the water and have a safe, fun experience. Even just changing your body position from swimming on your front, being able to roll over and breathe safely is important, also knowing what to do if you fall into water by accident, it is critical to making sure both adults are prepared for that throughout the summer,” Parsons said.

The YMCA of Greater Kansas City offers swim lessons to people of all ages starting as early as 6 months old. The CDC reports 45% of all adults have had swim lessons. For minorities, 28% Hispanics and 37% of Black people have taken swim lessons, prompting the CDC to push for more accessible lessons.

Other tips from the CDC are to ensure pool owners have a fence or safety perimeter around their home pools. Knowing CPR could save a life.