BRISTOL, Conn. (WTNH) —Thousands of lives are lost each year because of accidental drownings — deaths that are disproportionately affecting Black and brown communities.
Bristol is among the towns on a mission to get kids swimming at a low cost to parents.
Monique Rosemond enrolled her son, Cameron, in swimming lessons. She noted that swimming is an essential life skill.
“It’s very important, it’s a safety measure, you know, for him to be able to,” Rosemond said. “You never know what could happen. He has to be able to survive.”
The sad truth is many don’t make it out of the water. According to the CDC, drowning continues to be the most common cause of death for children under the age of five, except for birth defects.
State data shows 65% of all Connecticut children that drowned last year were Black or Hispanic. Bristol’s Parks & Rec Department is focused on bringing that number down.
Dr. Josh Medeiros, Superintendent of Bristol Parks, Recreation, and Youth Community Services, said the department is offering inclusion services to make sure that programs are cheap so everyone can come to the pool.
The Rockwell Park public pool is one of three in the town offering low-cost swimming lessons to kids. It is also one of the cheapest programs in the state.
“Swimming lessons, $45 for city residents, $55 for non-residents, lesson prices are competitive, low cost for families,” aquatics supervisor Jaimie Clout said.
While swimming lessons are becoming scarce nationwide due to lifeguard shortages, it’s not a problem in Bristol, as the town is paying their lifeguards above the minimum wage.
Aside from learning how to swim, parents should make sure their kids never swim alone, are supervised closely or have a designated water watcher, and always swim near a lifeguard.