The Problem of Adult Drowning

with Mel Goldstein, Education Services Coordinator at United States Masters Swimming

Indiana Community

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recalls a multitude of factors that influence drowning risk; the lack of swimming ability is one of them. Many think of children as lacking this skill, but in fact, adults make up the majority percentage of daily, drowning victims. However, it is know that when adults don’t know how to swim, their children are at greater risk of not learning to swim and, thus, at greater risk of drowning. The current Education Services Coordinator at United States Masters Swimming, Mel Goldstein, highlights what life-saving, learn-to-swim programs are offered in the community.

Interview recorded on July 12, 2017. Hosted by Taylor Bennett. Part 1 of 1.

Read a partial transcript of the interview here:

Bennett: That is quite a few adults that cannot swim, should we be concerned about that?

Goldstein: Absolutely. Approximately, 1-2 of the 8-10 drownings a day are adults and when the adults don’t swim, neither do their children.

Bennett: When the come to swim, do they say why they waited so long?

Goldstein: You have to look at the dynamics in our society. For instance, in the African American and Hispanic community, they didn’t have the opportunity while growing up to learn. So, they stay out of the water. Now they are parents or grandparents and want to play with their children.

Bennett: Is the approach to teaching an adult different than how you would teach a child?

Goldstein: Absolutely. US Masters Swimming has developed an instructive program that teaches instructors how to teach adults. We’ve adopted the 5 competancies of the American Red Cross and that is to swim 25 yards, jump in water over your head, turn around, tread water and climb out of the pool. In other words, save lives.

Bennett: Does it take longer?

Goldstein: Our program in this community is 4 weeks; 2 lessons a week at 45 minutes each. Our instructors are working under 1 instructor for 2 learners.

Bennett: How do you raise awareness about this issue?

Goldstein: I think US Masters Swimming wants to be the premiere resource for adult aquatics and this is a part of that; it’s education. I tell swimmers, when they come in, the hardest thing for you to do is to come back. A young man said he signed up for the class and turned around 4 times before he ever got to the class. He was in Vietnam and had almost drowned and never got back in.  By the time he finished the class, he completed all the competancies and can now play with his grandchildren.

Bennett: I’m sure being scared and frightened of the water is the number one reason for adults.

Goldstein: Exactly. Children don’t have that fear yet, but consequently adults do.

Bennett: How many adults do you teach?

Goldstein: In each of our classes there is somewhere around 19-20. We keep it small so we can provide them with the instruction needed.

*If you, or someone you know, would benefit from a learn-to-swim program, please visit Learn to Swim with USMS to learn more about instructors in your area.