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Teaching water safety is purpose of Cranberry Township’s ‘World’s Largest Swimming Lesson’

From left, Charlotte, Cece and Catherine Nedzel relax in the shallow end of the Cranberry Community Waterpark in 2021. The 14th annual World’s Largest Swimming Lesson will be held at the waterpark on June 22, when a free swimming lesson will be given. Butler Eagle file photo

When Cranberry Township joins communities around the world in the 14th annual World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, the intent isn’t simply to break a world record — it’s to save lives.

The free lesson, led by Goldfish Swim School in Wexford, is set to kick off at 7 p.m. on June 22 at the township’s waterpark, the goal being to teach as many people about proper swimming safety and habits as possible.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more children between the ages of 1 and 4 in the United States die from drowning than any other cause of death. Most of these drownings happen in swimming pools, but they can also happen when people aren’t expecting their children to be around water.

In addition to being the leading cause of death for children age 1-4, it is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children between the ages of 5 and 14 — right behind motor vehicle crashes.

Every year in the United States, there are an estimated 4,000 fatal unintentional drownings. That’s an average of 11 per day, the CDC says.

Another 8,000 drownings are nonfatal every year. This is an average of 22 per day. The injuries resulting from non-fatal drownings can cause brain damage, long-term disability and more.

These numbers remind us how important it is to take water safety seriously, especially with young ones.

According to the American Red Cross, water competency skills have risen notably since 2014, when only 46% of people possessed lifesaving water competency skills. In 2020, the American Red Cross reported 56% of people had key, lifesaving water competency skills.

What’s worth noting is that some factors make drowning more likely. Reasons include lack of close supervision, not wearing life jackets, missing or ineffective fences and not being able to swim.

Cranberry’s plan to partake in the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson will help combat the last of those. Kudos to the township for partaking in this important event.

— TL

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