Kids learn to swim in open water

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BLOOMER, Wis (WEAU)--This summer many of us will be hitting the lakes and rivers to cool off. But before you let your kids jump in, do you know the water safety rules?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than half of near drowning’s happen in lakes, rivers, or ponds.

Jamie Ludwigson has been teaching swimming lessons at bloomer beach for several summers.

"The most important thing that we push at level one is that there always needs to be an adult when they are swimming," Ludwigson said.

Too often swimmers get into trouble in water they are unfamiliar with.
Bloomer Beach Lifeguard Kailey Steinmentz says that’s why learning to swim in an open water setting can help better prepare swimmers.

“It’s not like a pool it’s a different level one step could be up to you neck and one could be over your head,” said Steinmentz.

The City of Bloomer offers eight swimming lessons a day during the summer.
Teaching kids everything from survival floating to learning the butterfly.

“Kids who swim here are more prepared,” Bloomer Beach Lifeguard Lindsey Lagesse said. In a lake, she says kids don’t have the security of pool walls or depth markers so they have to learn to test the water before they make a splash.

“A rule of thumb is to make sure you know how deep the water is. Even, If that means just walking chest deep to check instead of jumping in,” Lugwigson said.

Fred Meimen has sent both his kids through the program. He says in a pool kids learn endurance and technique but in open water they get a sense a better sense of water safety.

"It’s a very good feeling that they know the water safety rules and feel comfortable in the water," Meimen said.

The lessons at Bloomer beach are free and kids as young as 4 can sign up.
Ludwigson says whether parents should sign their kids up for indoor pool swimming lessons or open water lessons should be a family decision.
But she recommends all new swimmers should take lessons until they are comfortable in the water. Another recommendation is that new beginners wear life jackets or use floatation by devices, like noodle or kick board.