Why You Might Need Swimming Lessons Even If You Can Swim | The Survival Doctor

James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Every year even good swimmers drown. Some are in an accident or become unconscious due to a seizure, alcohol, or another reason. Some drown trying to help others. And some just don’t know how to swim as well as they thought.

According to a survey done by the American Red Cross, 80 percent of Americans say they can swim, but only 56 percent can complete all five critical water safety skills that make up what’s known as “water competency.”

Could you? The skills are:

  1. Step or jump into the water over your head.
  2. Return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute.
  3. Turn around in a full circle and find an exit.
  4. Swim 25 yards to the exit and exit from the water.
  5. If in a pool: Exit without using the ladder.

If you’re not absolutely sure you can perform these skills, consider taking lessons.

And those guidelines are just for keeping yourself alive. What if you were the only one around who could save another person from drowning?

Just the other day I was asked what to do if you see someone drowning and it’s up to you to save them. Well, of course, it’s always best to throw in a rope or have them grab a stick, but then I was asked what if the victim was a child or a really panicked person who couldn’t hold on to the rope or stick—and you couldn’t swim? Or what if you could swim but they grabbed you by the neck and you both went under?

All these are really good reasons to bite the bullet and take a swimming lesson and a water safety course. Really good reasons.

What about you? Have you ever been in a situation where you thought you might drown or had to save another?

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