Over the weekend, five people lost their lives in Quebec drownings, including a 14-year-old girl who died at Super Aqua Club, a water park in Laurentians.
The Life Saving Society of Quebec says 37 people have drowned so far this year, leading many to wonder if more can be done to prevent the toll from climbing.
Read more: 14-year-old girl drowns in Quebec’s Laurentian water park
Beaconsfield, Que. Heights Pool is full of kids.
More than 275 children of all ages are enrolled in swimming lessons at West Island Pool this summer.
The youngest swimmers are two years old, and pool manager Claudia De Felice says the sooner the better.
“I’ve noticed since I’ve been teaching that the younger they are, the less nervous they are around water – it’s easier for them to relax with water,” she said.
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Many parents with children who attend pool lessons say they want to expose their children to water at an early age, so they understand how to swim and learn about water safety.
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“I think at the very least, a very basic education about water safety is something that all kids should be exposed to at a very young age,” Sean Hughes said. “And after that there was reinforcement.”
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Adam de Flovio, president of the Montreal Institute of Swimming, says swimming lessons are an important way to prevent future accidents.
A large number of drowning deaths involve either non-existent swimming skills or poor swimming skills, he said. “So certainly by making sure that more people know how to swim, especially at younger ages, it will potentially reduce the risks of further drownings.”
Read more: Experts urge caution after 5 drownings in Quebec since Friday
He adds that it would be even better if the province made swimming lessons mandatory, or at the very least, make water safety education part of the physical education curriculum in schools.
OlxPraca asked the provincial government about the idea. In an email response, Quebec’s junior sports minister said, in part, that since many schools don’t have pools, “it would be unrealistic to include (swimming lessons) in the curriculum for all students.”
“However, we are continuing our efforts and investments to improve sports infrastructure in Quebec, including swimming pools,” he added.
Although swimming lessons are popular with children and teenagers, adults who don’t know how to swim should also be encouraged to learn, says Di Fulvio.
“It’s definitely never, ever too late,” he said. “In a given season, with our program we have anywhere from 80 to 100 adults, and they all learn to swim.”
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