Swimming season has arrived! Reston offers endless opportunities for water recreation, with five lakes and fifteen community pools in town, and multiple beaches just a few hours away. Two of Reston Association’s pools, Ridge Heights and Lake Thoreau, are scheduled to open this Saturday, May 9, 2015. The remaining RA pools will open on May 23, 2015. It’s time to buy your RA pool passes, shop for a new swimsuit, and relearn strategies to protect yourself and your family in the water.
May is National Water Safety Month. To get advice about water safety, I turned to some of Reston’s experts on the topic. Gina Bewersdorf is the owner of Reston’s Goldfish Swim School, a children’s swimming instruction facility that opened in 2014 and has become a trusted resource in this community. Gina and her team had some great information to share.
I spoke with Goldfish Swim School’s owner Gina Bewersdorf, general manager Ken Turner, and assistant general manager Tommy Hamiliton about water safety:
What is an ideal age to start learning to swim? Is there an age when it starts getting more difficult to learn?
The sooner the better! The longer you take to start your child in swim lessons the more fears he or she can develop. We start our swimmers at 4 months, which is an ideal age to get your little one comfortable around the water. The safety skills learned, even at this age, can prove to be lifesaving. Since our pool is 90 degrees, there is no worry of younger children getting chilled.
At what point can a parent feel confident enough in a child’s swimming ability to let him or her be out of arm’s reach?
In order for a child to be a proficient swimmer, he or she must be able to swim confidently on both front and back. Being able to swim and float on your back is utilized as a safety skill at Goldfish Swim School. As a parent you should never let your child venture out of reach from you in or around a pool.
What should skilled swimmers keep in mind about water safety?
All swimmers should keep in mind safety mechanisms that may be all around them. These could be things such as the pool rules, the presence of an adult and a lifeguard. Water activities are meant to be a fun and safe environment and it takes participation from all to keep them that way.
Do you have recommendations for safety at community pools?
My first recommendation would be to keep your child enrolled in year round swim lessons. Learned skills can be easily lost without the consistent practice and structure of swim lessons. The skills they learn from formal swim lessons will ease the anxiety that comes with hot summer days at the local pool. Swimming as a family also helps to keep the kids close in the water.
Reston is home to five lakes and lots of opportunities for water sports. Do you have advice for safety while kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, or pontoon boating?
Don’t just pack it, WEAR YOUR JACKET! The majority of drowning cases can be prevented with the proper use of a coast guard approved life jacket. Especially when participating in water supports, life jackets are a must! Using coast guard approved flotation devices is another great way to keep your child safe in and around all sorts of bodies of water.
Do you have any different advice for ocean safety?
Yes, rip tides are a hazard that are prevalent in larger bodies of water. They can easily sweep your legs out from under you and carry you away from the shore. Swimming parallel to shore is necessary to escape the rip tide. My advice is to keep yourself and your children closer to shore and always obey the lifeguard warning signs they make available.
Is there anything that Goldfish does differently from other swimming instruction programs to help promote water safety?
Goldfish Swim School-Reston specializes in swim lessons for children from 4 months to 12 years old. Our pool is heated to 90 degrees so that the children can learn to swim in a comfortable environment. Our staff is exceptional, taking great care to provide a golden experience to each child and family who swims with us. We offer perpetual lessons, with a 4:1 student to instructor. We incorporate specific safety skills for each level into every swim lesson and merge important life saving skills, like floating on your back to get a breath, with teaching kids the swim strokes that we are all familiar with.
Is there anything else you want our readers to know about this topic?
Consistency is the key to success in the water, and swimming year round provides a necessary foundation for our children to develop water safety skills and learn to swim. We work with families to schedule convenient times to make up missed classes, or change times if need be. Our goal is for the children to become safe, confident swimmers who LOVE the water! We want our kids to have every opportunity to master the skills we teach so that their parents can breath a little easier around the water this summer and enjoy it.
For more information about water safety, refer to this list of guidelines from the National Water Safety Month website.
In honor of Water Safety Month, Goldfish Swim School is hosting its first annual Safety Day on Saturday, May 16, 2015, from 2:00pm-4:30pm. They will have safety vehicles, demonstration of water safety skills, and snacks. The pool will be open for everyone to enjoy. This event is free and open to the public.
Goldfish Swim School is located at 12340 Pinecrest Rd. Suite 150 in Reston. You can reach them at www.goldfishswimschool.com or 703-348-3261.
Photo credit: Charlotte Geary. All rights reserved.