swimming safety

Water Safety in Focus as Summer Nears

The need for lifeguards continues for state parks and beaches.

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The hot temperatures are here, and people are looking for ways to cool down. Pools and other bodies of water will be very busy for the next few months, which has people thinking about water safety.

Although they sit empty now, East Hartford’s public pools will soon be filled with water and people. The city has five public pools, requiring 55 lifeguards.

Recreation Director Ted Fravel said they have a full staff, but know they are among the lucky ones.

“Same thing as last year. You know, they are short. They don’t have enough,” Fravel said, explaining there are other communities still searching for lifeguards.

According to its Facebook page, New London’s Ocean Beach Park’s pool was closed this weekend because of the lifeguard shortage.

They had guards on the beach but asked people to only swim where there was a guard and a flag flying over the tower.

The state is also actively recruiting lifeguards for eight state parks and beaches. Fravel said part of the challenge for communities seeking lifeguards is getting candidates certified through the Red Cross.

“To find the time at nights and weekends after school to get them trained is a big deal a big commitment,” said Fravel, explaining the course takes approximately 25 hours.

The commitment requires training on how to prevent accidents and rescue swimmers in danger of drowning. First aid knowledge is also required, including CPR training.

Taylor Lupacchino is a lifeguard at Manchester’s Goldfish Swim School. She got her certification through Elis and Associates, a private lifeguard certification company.

Lupacchino describes a thorough certification process, similar to the one required by the Red Cross.

“You have to be able to swim several meters to and back from the pool. Then you must pick up a 10-pound brick, underneath the water and raise it above your head,” Lupacchino said.

Lupacchino said she can’t understand why there’s a lifeguard shortage because she finds the job so rewarding.

“Knowing that I can save anybody at any time if anything happens, it’s a good feeling,” she said.

The pay for lifeguard positions varies from town to town, but the state has increased its rate this year to $16 an hour and all training time is also paid.

The deadline to apply is June 17.

Swimming Lessons Provide Early Foundation for Water Safety

In Manchester this morning, eight-year-old Luna Hull was in the water.

Every Tuesday for the past five weeks, she has been taking swimming lessons at Goldfish Swim School. Her father said it’s a critical life lesson.

“Most of the earth is water,” Adam Hull said. “We go on boats and everything like that so at some point you’re probably going to find yourself in the water.”

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Goldfish Swim School offers lessons for children as young as four months. One of the first things they teach kids before getting in the water is how to get out of it.

“Learning how to use your arms, your stomach and your knees or, as we call them, 'Fin, fin, belly flipper.' To get yourself out of the water and get yourself to dry land safely,” said Brooke Conroy, the school’s assistant general manager.

Conroy wants her students to be prepared in the event they find themselves in uncomfortable situations, teaching them to find the pools nearest walls, use floatation devices when necessary and how to tread water.

“When you know how to float, if anything happens, you know how to take a break and take a breath,” Conroy said.

Five weeks ago, before taking her first lesson, young Luna was not the swimmer she is today.

“She was very reluctant. Had to hold her all the time,” her father explained.

Today though, after just over a month of swimming lessons, Hull is at ease and Luna’s confidence has grown.

“Every lesson there’s an improvement,” Hull said.

Instructors at the swim school say there are some other things to keep in mind when swimming this year.

First, know your limitations and abilities, and use a life jacket whenever you are not sure, especially whenever you’re on a boat.

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