Swim for your lifestyle
• Photo gallery: Red Cross' swim program
We live our lives surrounded by an ocean.
That should be reason enough to learn how to swim.
"It's kind of like a 'duh!' thing if you live in Hawai'i ... you have to know how to swim," quipped Rachael Weinstein, 17, of 'Ewa Beach.
Do you and your keiki know how? Registration begins Thursday for the American Red Cross-Hawaii State Chapter's annual Summer Swim program. The free classes, open to adults and children, takes place in June and July at Ala Moana Beach Park.
"We would like nonswimmers to be comfortable in and around water, and allow those who have some swim ability to learn to swim better," said Mary Meinel, training and preparedness director of the American Red Cross-Hawaii State Chapter.
In Hawai'i, an average of 50 people drown and 150 people nearly drown each year, reports the American Red Cross. Drowning is the second leading cause of fatal, unintentional injuries among newborns through 17-year-olds.
"The best way to prevent these deaths is to teach kids how to swim," Meinel said. "It is a skill that must be taught because aquatic skills are not genetically inherited, but once learned, this lifetime skill will save lives."
Weinstein, a trained swimmer who's CPR-certified, will volunteer for a third year to help out with the Summer Swim program.
"The instructors really care about their pupils and do their best to help out kids who are having a hard time," said Weinstein, a junior at Campbell High School. "I would totally encourage parents and children to sign up. It's a great program."
Meinel also encourages families to register for the summer classes for several reasons.
"The program is free and outdoors, taking advantage of our beautiful beach and climate," Meinel said.
The American Red Cross, whose mission is to save lives, is a leader in aquatic training, she added.
For more than 45 years, the organization has offered free classes to accommodate those who might not otherwise be able to afford to take classes to learn how to swim.
"We first designed a formal swim program back in 1917," Meinel said. "We have been offering a free program at Ala Moana Beach Park since 1964, and before that they were held at Sans Souci Beach."
While learning how to swim is one of the best things people can do to stay safe in and around the water, there are other things families can do to ensure safety in the water this summer.
Meinel's No. 1 tip?
"Swim where there's a lifeguard, and if there isn't one, make sure you swim with a buddy," Meinel said.
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The American Red Cross-Hawaii State Chapter reminds families to follow these safety tips for staying healthy and safe in or around the water this summer:
For more information on staying safe in and around the water, visit www.hawaiiredcross.org or www.redcross.org, or call 739-8131.