National pediatrics group updates swimming safety guidelines - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

National pediatrics group updates swimming safety guidelines

IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Swimming pools across Eastern Iowa are set to open in the coming days, and there are new swimming safety guidelines you should know about.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) previously advised against swimming lessons for children between the ages of 1 and 4, but the group has now changed its stance.

Pete Kennedy, owner of Kennedy Swim School, says it's a change for the better.

"We're in a modern age now, and a lot my clients now are going to the Dells, they're doing to Dubuque to the waterpark, they're going to Burlington to the waterpark, and there's a lot more exposure to the lakes, rivers, there's a lot more pools being built here in Iowa," said Kennedy.

He's has been teaching kids as young as six months how to swim for nearly 60 years.

Even though the AAP won't go as far as recommending lessons for toddlers, he says it's good that the group is no longer advising against it.

The AAP had that advisory in place because many people believe that teaching kids ages 1 to 4 how to swim gave them and their parents a false sense of security around water. Kennedy says terms like "drownproofing" have misinterpreted and misused over the years.

"Drownproofing" is a term that was created by a Georgia Tech professor back in the 1930's. The method he taught allows swimmers to keep their heads above water, even with their arms and legs bound. The U.S. Navy still uses it for training, but Kennedy says that only works for so long with children.

"In essence, you can't really drownproof anybody. Even an excellent swimmer could drown, under the right conditions."

In addition to updating its guidelines for swimming lessons, the AAP also recommends completely isolating inflatable or backyard pools with a fence or wall, to limit access by smaller children and decrease drowning risk.

Kennedy's recommendation: teaching kids the basics of swimming is a big step toward keeping them safe around water.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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