Swimming lessons, supervision can help curb drowning stats

7:13 PM, Jul 9, 2012   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - It's a powerful plea from one parent to another.

"All I can say is, get your baby in swimming lessons to prevent this," said Latoya Walker. Walker's son drowned over the weekend. "I knew for a fact he couldn't swim. Now he is gone."

It was Saturday evening when 6-year old Tony Martin Caine drowned in four feet of water at Wirth Beach in Golden Valley. While the family wishes the lifeguards could have done more, they do admit there were too many children and not enough adult supervision at the time of the incident.

"Everyone plays a role in that safety," said Mary Barber-Schmitz, an aquatic specialist with the Minnesota Red Cross. "It's the swimmers, the parents and the lifeguard that are a team."

Barber-Schmitz says signing children up for swimming lessons is part of the solution.

At Foss Swim School in St. Louis Park, students learn confidence and swimming skills year-round.

"It's important no matter what you can afford to get them in the pool and get them swimming," says Heather Bissonette, a parent watching her child in the pool. "You have to get them comfortable with water and teach them a healthy fear of it."

With families dealing with belt-tightening budgets, experts suggest to call your local aquatic center and ask about discounted prices.

There have been six drowning deaths in Hennepin County in 2012. Statewide, there have been 27 non-boating drowning deaths.

A memorial fund for the family of Tony Martin Caine has been set up at US Bank under the name "Latoya Walker for Tony Caine."

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