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Why water safety education does not require a pool
Without a doubt, the summer of 2020 will be unforgettable for many reasons. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed pool operations, possibly forever. As we continue to see an increase in pool closure announcements, operators are now tasked with providing service to our communities while maintaining physical distancing — think of it as the “ReCreation of RECreation.”
For the city of St. Joseph, Missouri, initial planning focused on the development of virtual educational sessions targeting a variety of safety topics. The biggest challenge was identifying ways to engage the community and encourage participation.
After many conversations with colleagues, one thing is clear: aquatics professionals are unanimously passionate about water safety, education and recreation. More importantly, we possess a strong calling to continue this mission. As a result, organizations within the Kansas City Metro Aquatics Council (KCMAC) are working together to “pool” our resources to develop virtual programs.
This is where the ReCreation of RECreation Swim School 2020 begins. Embracing out-of-the-box thinking, planners quickly turned to a couple of free apps to get this project off the ground.
Apps for Water Safety Education
If you’re not already using them, I suggest downloading Quik and Splice to your smartphone. Both apps have a short learning curve and will allow you to create a video masterpiece on your first try. Previously, both apps were used by city of St. Joseph staff to produce in-house staff recruitment commercials. This summer, they will be used to develop 30-second water safety commercials. Additional 5- to 15-minute educational videos will showcase family-based water safety workshops and activities.
Another curriculum feature will be the Pool Cool program presented by the Masonic Cancer Alliance and the University of Kansas Cancer Center. Pool Cool provides a comprehensive sun-safety campaign initially developed as a swim lesson companion. It will now complement our virtual Water Safety campaign and promote skin cancer awareness throughout the community. For more information, check out #kansaspoolcool.
Let’s not forget, summer is not just about water safety — it is also about fun. Consider what water-based activities you can encourage in your hometown. Consider hosting squirt gun tie-dye (using drink mix as dye) as a fun, physical distancing backyard activity or lifejacket safety week with timed-event challenges. Worksheets and coloring pages are great for younger children and basic swimming skills can be showcased for when we’re all back in the pool.
For those who will offer water access this summer, what are your creative programming ideas? Will you offer family-based swim lessons or advanced-level lessons using an on-deck instructor? Remember, the goal is maintaining physical distancing while offering quality programming.
Additional topics for your own program can include: first aid, weather safety, why we have pool rules, victim recognition and what to do during an emergency. Don’t forget to check with your lifeguard training agency for water safety tools that can be incorporated into your program.
Have a safe, fun summer!
Jende K. Smith, CPRP, AFO, is Aquatics Supervisor for the city of St. Joseph, Missouri, and serves as an Adjunct Instructor in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department at Missouri Western State University.