Kids get more out of swim lessons |

Kids get more out of swim lessons

Children learn how to pull a person back into a raft during a swift water safety awareness program on Tuesday at the Carson Valley swim Center.
Jim Grant | The Record-Courier

The surrounding lakes and rivers are famous for kayaking, river rafting, swimming, fishing and more. Knowing how to swim is one thing, but what happens when a kayak tips over on a raging river or a swimmer is drowning in Lake Tahoe? The first logical reaction would be to go in after and try to save the person right? Wrong. It is important to know basic safety in open and often cold and fast moving water, which the Carson Valley Swim Center introduced into their swim lessons Tuesday.

Douglas County Search and Rescue’s John Soderman and Bob Voss showed and explained the Do’s and Don’ts of enjoying and being safe around water to a group of swim lesson kids aged 3 to 13.

“In water things happen fast,” said Soderman. “Everyone says they can swim and think that’s enough, but it’s not about how long I can swim, it’s about how long I can float.”

Soderman said to always float on your back and extend your legs out in front to be able to kick off of rocks, river beds etc. and to lift your head. Doing so will create an air pocket that will help you stay afloat and alert. He also said to stand facing upstream to avoid falling over face first by rushing water.

“With the rushing water behind you, it’s harder to lift yourself up,” he said. “Plus, many people drown because their feet get stuck between rocks and when wedged between a rock and rushing water, it can be dangerous.”

Soderman said to avoid jumping in to save a drowning person. He said 50 percent of people who drown were people trying to save someone else in the water. Instead, extend a rope or something the person can grab onto.

The pool slides were then turned on to resemble a rushing river and the kids practiced the procedures of floating, standing and grabbing a rope while floating down stream.

“I think it’s really important for them to learn this. It’s different from what the lifeguards teach in the regular swim lessons,” said lifeguard and swim lesson instructor Mitch Miller. “It brings a whole new awareness to water safety and gives them some experience in a whole new environment situation.”

Next, the kids were brought to the diving pool in the deep end where they were shown how to get in and out of a raft safely and what to do if someone falls out or if it tips over.

“It’s really cool, cause I’ll just jump out and see what they do,” said Soderman. “They will panic for a second but will come up with a plan to get me back in the raft.”

Soderman and Voss showed the kids how to pull someone back into the raft.

“Extend a paddle to the swimmer, pull them in, let them grip the raft, then pull them up by their PFD and fall back into the raft,” said Soderman. “That’s why the PFD should be properly fitted so it can be used to lift someone up, because we don’t want to risk hurting the person by grabbing their arms or whatever.”

According to Anne Harris, a member of Douglas County Search and Rescue, this is the first time the swim center has included something like this into their swim lessons and the feedback for it has been very positive.

“I think it’s great that they’re teaching kids how to be safe in the water and not just with the lessons,” said watching mother, Shanda Vriscoe,“It’s being safe, but having fun at the same time.”

Vriscoe’s 10-year-old daughter, Kaylee, was one of the students participating in the lesson. Kaylee said the best part about the lesson was working together and learning to save each other.

“If you are ever in a boat, you need to know how to get back on safely and how to be safe in the water,” said Kaylee.