Aquatic experts urging residents to sign their kids up for swimm - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Aquatic experts urging residents to sign their kids up for swimming lessons after drowning

MOBILE, AL (WALA) -

It's a tragedy on Dog River. A boy drowned after jumping off a pier. It's not clear whether the boy knew how to swim. Either way, swimming lessons could certainly help cut down on drownings.

The Hearin Chandler Family YMCA said at this time of year, when children are out of school and the heat is smoldering, water safety is of extreme importance. In fact, they say it can save a life.

"It's a life and safety issue around here," said Katie Roland, a parent who brings two of her children for swimming lessons "If nothing else, how to get out in an emergency situation."

Roland learned at a young age and she's paying it forward to her children. She says the risk is too great.

"It's important to learn to swim at a young age because you're surrounded by water so often and we have so many water activities," she said.

This morning a boy drowned in Dog River. Mobile police say the 12 or 13-year-old jumped from a pier. A neighbor who lives nearby says this incident should serve as a warning to parents.

"I would like for the community to really reach out and take their children to classes to help them learn how to swim because they offer them at the YMCA," said Floretta Harris, who lives near the area where the drowning happened.

The YMCA offers swimming classes year round. About 800 children a year learn at the Chandler branch of the Y. Living on the Gulf Coast it's very important.

"There's water everywhere, not just swimming pools and backyard swimming pools, but also creeks and lakes and ponds and all kinds of things," explained Cheryl Schaffer, YMCA Aquatics director for the North Mobile and Chandler locations.

For people who may not be able to afford lessons, financial assistance is available to low-income families. It's not clear if the boy knew how to swim, but after what happened, the Y believes lessons are life savers.

"It's very sad. We don't know why that happened. But we would hope that we could offer enough swimming lessons to enough children so that we could maybe help prevent that from happening again," she added.

To sign your children up for swimming lessons and to find out more about financial assistance available, click here.

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