MANDEVILLE -- Following the drowning death of another child, there's a desperate call for families to have every member learn how to swim.
Two-year-old Nash Bennett died Monday night, days after being found unresponsive in a Ponchatoula pool.
At Northshore Swim, mother Kolby Hodge's version of "sitting poolside" is watching her 3-year-old and 2-year-old learn water safety.
"As a parent, you can't be everywhere at once, especially with two younger children, and I'm about to have another child as well, so everybody needs to learn how to swim," she said.
They're under the instruction of Gitte Klein, who's been teaching swim lessons in her Mandeville backyard for 20 years.
The students range in age from 3-months-old to senior citizens. She says the basics of floating, blowing bubbles, kicking and paddling can and do save lives. Klein says those fundamentals are crucial to have when you live in Southeast Louisiana.
"Around here in Louisiana, there's a lot of water," she said, "You are boating, kayaking and the younger ones have a lot of swim parties. There are pools everywhere. You have creeks, you have rivers and you have Lake Pontchartrain."
Having lessons for one day, or even one week, is great, but experts say swimming success is based off of skill building and consistency. More is always better.
"If you're comfortable with water and you fall in, you don't panic, swallow a lot of water and go straight to the bottom," Klein said. "If you're comfortable, you'll have time to hold your breath or blow slowly out and you can kick and come up to the surface."
But Klein says there are steps to prevent a child falling in to begin with. It includes never leaving your child unattended, regardless of age, and always keeping your eyes on your child, especially at parties.
Parents like Hodge urge other parents not to let their own fear of water, or cost, discourage water safety for all members of a family, because, she says simply, life is priceless.
In addition to private swim lessons, you can also find schedules and pricing at your local Red Cross and YMCA's. And these days, many swim instructors offer year-round lessons as well.
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