Friday, March 21, 2014

Summer is coming!

Summer is coming and so are swimming lessons! But unfortunately, so are drowning's.

Each and every year, we spend our weekends at the lake, around the pool, in the water park. It is so much fun, not to mention refreshing from the heat! But also each year, we forget about what the value of swimming or learn to swim really is.

I ran across an article on the All Ears Blog that I thought I would share with you. It is a great article on the benefits of swimming. Benefits from family time to fitness and the life saving. Yes, unfortunately, lifesaving is the final benefit listed. Just like swimming lessons is sometimes the final "summer activity" that is added to a family schedule. Or worst yet, they only squeeze in a few lessons and think that is "good enough" because it is "better than nothing".

Parents should use caution in only using "introductory lessons" because is give the parents and the child a false sense that the child is able to take on any situation concerning swimming. This can cause a child to lose their life. Only a well laid out plan of swimming lessons and safety lessons can help to avoid a terrible tragedy. Only a well trained instructor and well managed program can deliver the right kind of lessons that can save your child's life.

So when reading any article on all the wonderful benefits of swimming, always look in the article where they list that it can be a life saving tool for your family. Health benefits are great, but if you do not survive, that information does not serve you at all. Life saving should be your very first benefit and your very first plan to be around water this summer.

Oh! And here is the link to the article I mentioned above. It really is a good article, but read from the bottom up. Have a splashing good day!

Sunday, August 11, 2013


The caption of this post is not new. It happens more often than we would like for it to and it is very unfortunate and hard to explain to grieving families.

Parents believe that when they send their children to a pool, they are safe because there are lifeguards on site to watch over everyone. And it should be that way, but it does not always happen.

When a guard is certified by an instructor of a certifying agency, it means that they have met the minimal standards of that agency for certification on that day. There is no guarantee that a guard will be able to respond to an incident such as a drowning. After all, most of these guards are under 21 years of age and are in fact a child as well.

Sometimes young people see the sun bathing, the girls, the boys and the  glory of being a guard, and want it so much that they will purchase a certification card on the black market because they want the job and cannot pass the certification or do  not want to put the work into the certification.

Management, a lot of times, may not even be aquatic trained. Our local pool when I was growing up, was ran by a woman that could not even swim. And this happens a lot as well, especially in small towns and rural areas like ours.

But it is the managements place to be sure that they have fully investigated the training of the guards they hire and that they understand the skills that are actually needed to prevent an incident and if need be to make a rescue according to their Emergency Action Plan that they have outlined and posted.

The management is also responsible for holding daily in-service training for guards to stay up on their skills needed for rescue and that includes a high level of swimming ability. In-service training should include timed swim checks with equipment, back boarding for head, back and neck injuries, CPR, rescue breathing and AED skills. Those that work at the facility, including management and concession, should be a part of the in-service training and understand their role in the Emergency Action Plan.

Parents have the right to ask management about the facilities Emergency Action Plan as well as the abilities of the guards. If a guard looks tired or hung over, parents need to feel that they can report this to management with confidence that the manager does know what to do.

Two things parents should give high consideration to are:
1. Be sure your child is an accomplished swimmer that knows self survival techniques in the water and can swim at least the five basic strokes of swimming (front crawl, back crawl, backstroke, breast stroke and sidestroke) no less than 150 yards. Sorry "doggie paddling" and "finning" on your back are do not count here (although finning can be used for survival). Parents do not leave their children in swimming classes long enough, most of the time, for the child to truly develop into a good swimmer.
2. Get to know the pool, management and guards where your child swims. Be sure the standards of the pool meet your standards for the safety of your child. If you have concerns, address the management. If that does not work, go to the managers supervisor right away and do not be afraid to report what you experienced or saw. You just might be saving a life. And it could be your child's.

Now watch this video of a 14 year old boy's drowning at a pool with eight guards. It should of never happened. No guard came to his rescue. Only a friend and a stranger tried to save him.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Want To Bring Star Fish Swimming Academy to Your Town Next Summer?

We have been giving it thought .........lots of thought. That we may just be moving into position to be able to offer learn to swim classes in area small towns such as Buffalo, Arnett, Gage, Mooreland, and Seiling, Oklahoma.

If you would love to have a quality learn to swim class session in your town next summer, give us a call at 580-256-3262 to know of the interest. Local people can be trained to be a part of bringing a seven level swimming program to your town.

Share this blog post with family and friends to have them help share the interest. But we do have to move quickly because summer is only nine months away!

One of our little swimmers

Today, one of our young swimmers was able to swim almost 100 feet in the front crawl ! Now, this young lady has taken three sessions this summer and should be progressing well. She has worked very hard to get to where she is at (three strokes learned and can float forever!) .

Sadly, I had an opportunity to be at our local waterpark recently and was watching from outside the fence. What I saw was young swimmers, maybe between the ages of 8 and 12 years, struggling with a doggie paddle style of movement after landing in the water from the water slides.

Sadly, some families believe that if a child can go down a slide and then get to the side (in any fashion) that their child can swim and are safe in the water. No so. If anything, they are taking a big risk of the child believing that they are a good swimmer and will eventually take bigger risks, such as jumping "at the cliffs" (a local watering hole that they jump from a height into barely a shallow pond---and yes there has been a drowning there in the past).

Sadly also, that there were certified lifeguards on site that felt that these children could swim well enough as well. I have to wonder about the swimming level of these guards!!

Gone seems to be the time that the pool management, lifeguards and parents knew that learning to swim (at least the five basic styles of swimming) is a mandatory life skill. Maybe it is time for all of the state bathing codes to include the swimming qualifications of those that work in and around aquatic facilities. It just might be the way to bring back the importance of really learning to swim. Until then, maybe aquatic facilities and their managers should set their own standards much higher and be sure that everyone is a swimmer. A real swimmer.

Just my 2 cents!

Thursday, July 18, 2013


As a parent we believe that when we send our children to the local pool, the lifeguards will keep them safe. But what we need to remember is that most teens who are watching over local pools are teens, young teens.

The younger the guard, the less likely that they have had enough life experiences to handle all situations that can occur at an aquatic facility. Training can only account for so much, as far as response to an incident. This is where proper management by an aquatic manager/aquatic specialist and better hiring practices, as well as extra on site training, could make a difference.

Teens will be teens, and so the management needs to be mature enough to manage the teen years of a guard as well as the pool facility. Just recently, on the 4th of July, my family was at our local park for the festivities. The area of the park we found as a suitable site for our gathering just happened to be near the aquatic center. For hours during the day and evening we watched the many mistakes that the local teens made as lifeguards.

From taking their eyes off of the pool to visit with another guard while sitting in their station chair, to totally turning their backs on the pool area to talk to friends on the outside of the fence, as well as enforcing rules on one group of children, but allowing others to break the rules, these young guards were in drastic need of more training and a manager that could maintain a safer location for area children to swim.

Most lifeguard training programs actually train a guard to prevent incidents from happening so that there is no need to an emergency response. As a last resort, guards are trained to make an emergency rescue and extraction from the pool. When in service training is not done on a regular schedule and the hot days of summer continue, most teen guards will lose their concentration and focus on keeping their eyes on the public in the water. And most guards cannot even tell you what the state bathing code sets their pool patron level to be, or what mandated equipment is required.

Another misconception about lifeguards is that they are the strongest swimmers at the aquatic facility. Well, they really should be but that is not always the case. If a guard can meet the minimal standards of the training course they are in, they will receive their certification. But remember, the certification, although it has to be renewed every few years, just means that they at least met the minimal standards of the course on the day the certification cards were handed out. There are no guarantees unless the manager over them has policies and standards in pace to assure their skills are met, including swimming levels, on a weekly basis.

A lot of local pools will also use guards to teach swimming lessons. But unless the guard has taken an instructor course in learning about learning styles, teaching methods and stroke mechanics, they may be doing more harm than good with their swimming lessons. Again, the manager should be held accountable for the level of knowledge and skill of their guards.

As parents, most do not know what it takes to be a good guard or swimming instructor. They just trust that they are making the right choice because it is at the local pool or aquatic center. I would encourage parents to ask questions about qualifications and background of guards and instructors. If you do not get an answer that seems right, find somewhere else for your children. And never let your young children go to the local swimming pools with out you.

Some cities are beginning to see the need for stronger training and management in aquatic settings. They are looking at changes and hiring qualified managers as well as guards. Unfortunately, a lot of the times it is large cities that make this step forward and smaller ones just look away and hope that nothing happens. You might find this link with a news station in the Houston area interesting and informative as to how some steps to better and safer aquatics is happening in the Houston area.

Here is to being informed and keeping safe around water.

*Mary Myers is a former American Red Cross Instructor Trainer for WSI, First Aide, CPR, AED and Supplemental Oxygen. She has also trained with YMCA and American Learn To Swim Teachers. She is a member of US Swim Schools Association

Summer Swimming Classes Continue Through July!

Session #3 of our Learn To Swim Safely classes starts July 29th and runs through August 8th. These classes are for ages 2yrs (must be fully potty trained) though adult. Registration for the classes can be done through our parent company website at  Just go to our sports tab and then select swimming lessons.

Our Learn To Swim programs offers two pre-levels and seven learn to swim levels. We offer instruction for all ages.

Call our office at 580-256-3262 for more information.

Preventing the Drowning of Young Children

There are many articles on drowning and drowning prevention on the internet these days, but one of the best articles on layers of protection around aquatic facilities is by The National Drowning Prevention Alliance.

The article is so truthful and complete, I will not add anything to it but my high recommendation that you read it for the safety of your children, your students, your family and friends.

Here is the link :