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'It does save lives,' Infant swim program reinforces survival swimming at early age

Kansas City Swim Academy
Posted at 9:45 PM, Mar 29, 2024

MERRIAM, Kan. — You can't predict when a crisis will happen.

The latest example?

The collapse of a major bridge in Baltimore.

Preventing swimming deaths are why Kansas City Swim Academy & Infant Aquatics makes survival swimming a focus.

Mary Jo Klier started the organization in the 1980's.

"Learning how to swim does save lives," Klier said.

When children from her swim academy get in the pool at the Merriam Community Center, learning to swim is just like any other endeavor that can be taught.

"Teach them to turn over, surface and float," Klier said. "That's what you can do before they're walking."

In addition to being an infant aquatics instructor, she's a professional swim coach with swimmers who qualified for Team USA.

Her little swimmers learn to adapt to the water with every stroke and every kick.

"Before my third baby was one, she was able to fall in the water, tread on her back and swim to the edge," said Farangis Letham, a parent with KCSA.

For the past 10 years, Klier has been working on what she calls Project Zero, a program to prevent drownings and accidents.

"You can drown at home," Klier said. "I was just looking up how Texas had seven kids drown in a bathtub."

When parents hear of a tragedy like drowning or what happened at the bridge in Baltimore, it only reinforces why they put their kids in swim lessons.

“At least they will not lose themselves and hopefully those instincts will kick in and it will be a habit," Letham said.

Klier said the program has evolved over the years.

Her team is working on expanding the program to the inner city.