Over the weekend, five people in Quebec lost their lives to drowning incidents, including a 14-year-old girl who died at Super Aqua Club, a water park in the Laurentians.
Quebec’s lifesaving society says so far this year 37 people have drowned, prompting many people to wonder if more can be done to prevent that number from climbing.
Heights pool in Beaconsfield, Que., is bustling with kids.
There are more than 275 children of all ages enrolled in swimming lessons at the West Island pool this summer.
The youngest swimmers are two years old, and pool manager Claudia De Felice says the earlier the better.
“I’ve noticed since I’ve been teaching that the younger they are, the less nervous they are around water – it’s easier for them to get comfortable with water,” she said.
Many of the parents who have children who attend lessons at the pool say they wanted to expose their children to water at a young age, so they understand how to swim and also learn about water safety.
“I think at the very least, the very basic education about water safety is something that all kids should be exposed to at a very young age,” said Sean Hughes. “And reinforced thereafter.”
President of the Montreal Institute of swimming, Adam Di Fulvio, says swimming lessons is one important way to prevent future accidents.
“A large percentage of drowning deaths do involve either non-existent swimming skills or weak swimming skills,” he said. “So certainly by making sure more people know how to swim, especially at younger ages, it’ll likely reduce the risks of more drownings happening.”
He adds that it would be even better to see the province make swimming lessons mandatory, or at the very least, make water safety education part of the physical education curriculum at schools.
Global News asked the provincial government about the idea. In an emailed response, Quebec’s junior sports minister said in part, since many schools don’t have a pool nearby, “it would be unrealistic to add (swimming lessons) to the curriculum for all students.”
“However, we are continuing our efforts and investments to improve sports infrastructure across Quebec, including swimming pools,” she added.
Di Fulvio says though swimming lessons are popular for children and teens, adults who don’t know how to swim should also be encouraged to learn.
“It’s definitely never, ever too late,” he said. “In a given season, we have anywhere between 80 to 100 adults with our program, and they all learn how to swim.”
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