Thirty-two Crossett kids are now less likely to be one of about 730 kids killed by drowning each year. That number comes from some math done to a CDC stat. 

Let’s check it: According to the CDC, “Every day about 10 people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 years or younger.” Here’s where my Crossett Coach Richardson-educated counting comes in: If two of the everyday drownings are kids and since there are 365 days in a year, then 365 days times two kids per day equals 730 kids each year drown and the blue train reaches the station first. Am I right? 

Regardless the number, I am positive that the Crossett City Pool staff has diminished the chances of Crossett kids drowning by 32 because that is how many kids we have had go through our swimming lessons program so far this summer. That is 32 kids less likely to be the empty desk at school next year. Thirty-two kids less likely to be memorialized in our Termite at the end of what would have been their senior year. Thirty-two kids less likely to be missed at the dinner table because they didn’t know what to do should they get into trouble in the water. 

We offer these lessons in five day sessions starting every Monday through the week of August 10. There are three time slots to choose from: 5  p.m. to 5:45 p; 6  p.m. to 6:45  p.m.; and 7  p.m. to 7:45  p.m. The cost is $50 for the entire week. 

On the first day of each session, our instructors guide the kids through a swim test, and based on their comfort and confidence in the water split them up into one of four different levels: Starfish (Beginner), Minnow (Intermediate), Dolphin (Advanced), and Shark (Expert).

If the student completes Expert Level before they are 15 years old and are therefore eligible to take the Red Cross class to be certified as an instructor, they have the option of being an aide to one of our swim instructors. This idea was inspired by Rachel Richardson who is working to complete Expert but who is only 13 years old. Instead of allowing her hard work to go to waste during a two-year gap, we decided to create a level to accommodate her and others like her. This is a chance for them to do prep work for the Water Safety Instruction course like learning hands-on how to handle different swim class experiences — for example, having students with severe water anxieties, behavior issues and various in-class situations. At 16 years old, the student is eligible for lifeguard certification. 

Each session includes a water safety day during which Ms. Susie and Mr. Kodi from the Crossett Fire Department come over to talk about what to do when you have a water emergency. We show a water safety cartoon, tour the deck and point out the features about our pool that mirror most other public pools like posted depth numbers and what they mean and posted rules and why following them is important. 

I have to pause here and put out a plea for help. One of the most common incidents we experience at the Crossett City Pool is kids jumping into the deep end without knowing how deep it is. Now, to most adults it is obvious that the numbers on the poolside measure how deep the pool is in that area. But to a kid, who might not even see the number, it’s just a number. They don’t automatically relate it to how far over their head the water is. 

Have that conversation with a child: “Hey, did you know that the numbers on the side of a pool tell you how deep the water is? And the bigger the number, the deeper the water?” That mention could go a long way toward helping a child make smart choices while near a swimming pool. 

But what will go even further is leading a child to our swim lessons. To sign yours up, call 870-500-0303. We also offer a parent/child class for kids below kindergarten age. This is a 45-minute session where parent and child follow an instructor’s cues through different exercises in the water like scooping, sprinkling, and surface diving with aid, all using fun and colorful pool toys. 

Before wrapping this up, I have to brag on our instructors. This is their first year teaching, and they have more than championed the task. What look like ordinary Crossett high school students and recent graduates are actually people who can save lives and are doing that not only through their hours of guarding public swim. They are also saving lives by teaching lifelong skills. Shake their hand when you see them around town. They are CHS graduates Lindsey Lloyd and Kason Brooks and CHS students Amber Sinks, Sunny Stephenson and Brooklyn Bailey. They are true hometown heros walking among us.

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