By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest
Every summer, too many children drown in backyard pools, koi ponds or other small bodies of water. Swimming emergencies happen fast, often silently, and can have fatal outcomes if no one is there to intervene.
But if swimming is so important, why don’t more schools make swim lessons part of their physical education programs?
Government Mandates versus Public Freedom
Americans sometimes skirt a fine line between what some might call “government intrusion” and the public’s freedom of choice. There are many government-mandated programs in the United States, ranging from public education and drivers’ education to emergency management agencies and transportation rules and regulations.
There are even local ordinances about homeowners’ backyard swimming pools. But there are no laws requiring adults – or children – to know how to swim.
Most towns and cities have their own parks and recreation departments. Often, these departments will offer swimming lessons for a reasonable price to local residents. YMCAs and other community recreation centers also offer children and adults the opportunity to take swimming lessons.
Logistics of Adding Swimming Lessons to Schools
Many U.S. public schools do not have a swimming pool. If they did, they would need to abide by appropriate safety measures, including lifeguards and staff trained in teaching swimming.
Managing a pool also requires monitoring the pool's chemicals and maintaining the system. Overall, it is expensive to maintain a school’s swimming pool.
School Districts Need Swimming Classes to Reduce Life-Threatening Emergencies
There are many subjects that students need to be taught. However, budgetary constraints demand that school boards make choices in their curricula and cut programs at times.
As a result, music and art are among the disciplines that many school districts have eliminated. For example, music and art classes are no longer offered in Detroit, Michigan.
But where safety is concerned, there are certain disciplines that children need to know. Knowing how to swim is one of them.
If school districts were required by law to teach swimming in their K-12 curricula, we could reduce the number of swimming emergencies. A swimming program incorporated into each school district might prove to be another way for local governments to mitigate these emergencies before they happen.
Photo credit: GJ Cosker