Area schools, representative weigh in on

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COLFAX, Wis. (WEAU) - A senator in Minnesota is proposing a bill that would require all public schools to teach swimming lessons as part of their physical education curriculum.

Its intent is to prevent drowning deaths by offering more students a chance to learn how to swim.

For districts that don't have a pool within ten miles, students would still learn rescue techniques and other safety measures. Colfax Schools superintendent Bill Yingst said it could be a challenge for all schools to comply with the law, but any additional funding to help kids learn how to swim would be beneficial.

“Students nowadays are very busy and there's a lot of other activities going on so I think it doesn't always lend itself well to taking swimming lessons on their own, so the school taking a lead on it is a good idea if they have pools and facilities available,” Yingst said.

Colfax offers a two week swimming lesson program during the summer in Elk Mound.

“It really comes down to the funding and what the community and tax payers see as a priority and if they're willing to fund it.”

Eleva Strum superintendent Craig Semingson said he was for the idea and that even if it saves one life, it's worth having such a law.

Challenges remain, but several in Eau Claire said promoting safety is what's most important.

“The other barrier I can see is having qualified instructors. Someone who is able to get into the water, with the children,” Becky Adamski the Eau Claire YMCA aquatic director said.

Diane Bauer of Eau Claire said she's glad her sons had a chance to have swimming lessons when they were in school, but that a stronger focus from all schools could give more kids that same opportunity.

“It would benefit all the kids. Some of them if they had to take private lessons can't afford it. So then this would at least include all the kids that are going to that school,” Bauer said.

“It's a lifesaving skill that we feel strongly children should invest in regardless of age,” Adamski said.

Wisconsin Representative Dana Wachs said he hasn't heard of any similar discussions in Madison but that it does sound like a good idea that would prepare kids for life. Other state representatives were unavailable for comment.

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