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Think safety at ‘April Pools Day’

Academy Swim Club offers swim fun, games and safety information

Posted: April 23, 2009 2:08 p.m.
Updated: April 24, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Jack Vedder, 5, right, gets a swimming lesson from instructor Thomas Wald at the Academy Swim Club.

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When Kris Ghassimi was 17, she almost drowned after a boating accident. As a parent, she vowed never to put her daughter in the same position.

Shelby Ghassimi, 5, has taken swimming lessons since she was 18 months old.

“If kids can walk, they should know how to swim - period,” said Ghassimi, a Valencia resident.

Though Shelby is an accomplished swimmer who can do the backstroke and breaststroke, the Ghassimis make it a point to attend the April Pools Day Water Safety Expo and Drowning Prevention event presented each year by the Academy Swim Club, where Shelby takes lessons.  

The free community event will be held 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Academy Swim Club’s Valencia location. The expo will offer an “everyone wins” swim meet, fun, games and safety characters along with water safety information and drowning prevention techniques.

“Last year, I read that three local kids had drowned. It boggles my mind,” Ghassimi said. “Education and awareness is essential for children and their parents.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury related-death for children ages 1 to 14 and the number one cause of death for children under age 5, with major risk factors including lack of barriers and supervision. Each year nearly 1,000 children under 5 die from drowning, with 78 percent of drownings occurring in the home.

“Drowning is 100 percent preventable,” said Jim Miller, Academy Swim Club’s educational director. “As often as we securely buckle our children into their car seat, we should be equally cautious of their safety around pools, spas, fountains, lakes, ponds, bathtubs, even sinks, toilets, diaper pails and buckets. Children are naturally attracted to water and we must be watchful every second they are around it.”

At April Pools Day, parents and children will learn the layers of protection which could save a life, as well as cardiopulmonary resuscitation demonstrations, hands-on poolside safety techniques, and an eye-opening simulated drowning emergency response situation with the assistance of the County Fire Department.

“We get between 200 and 600 people at April Pools Day. It’s the perfect time of year, because it’s right before summer, when people spend most of their time at the pool,” said Nikki Miller, a child psychotherapist and swim instructor for more than 20 years. “Kids love it, they get stamps with every lesson learned and after six stamps, they get free popcorn.”

The Millers, who live in Valencia, started educating the community on the importance of water safety and drowning prevention after a 1995 near-drowning of their own 2-year-old son, who silently slipped into a Jacuzzi as his babysitter talked on the phone. Luckily, the Millers’ older son, who at age 4 already had years of swimming lessons behind him, saved his brother’s life by pulling him out.

“We want to educate as many families as we can. If April Pools Day prevents one drowning, then it’s totally worth it,” Nikki Miller said.
April Pools Day, 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Academy Swim Club, 28079 Smyth Drive, Valencia. Free. For more information, call (661) 702-8585 or visit www.swim4life.com.

 

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