Worcester County Public School fourth-graders are diving into beach and water safety courses at the year-round indoor Sports Core Pool in Ocean Pines.
“Learning to save themselves as well as how to respond to an emergency can really change the outcome of a bad situation,” said Ocean Pines Aquatics Director Colby Phillips. “Worcester County is surrounded by water and, with drowning being one of the top five leading causes of death in children, it is extremely important for our children to gain as much education on water safety as possible.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Worcester County has a total area of 695 square miles, of which 468 square miles are land and 227 square miles are water.
Data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control shows that every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger.
“So much time and energy have been put into this program to cover all aspects of water safety,” said Phillips. “When creating the program we have reached out to the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department, the Ocean City Beach Patrol, the Ocean Pines Swim Team, water safety instructors and the Stephen Decatur High School swim team.”
Area students ages 9-10 are currently participating in the safety course, which includes rip currents awareness.
“Each day the students rotate through stations and each day one station is a swim lesson based on their skill set,” said Phillips. “They are taught reach-and-throw techniques, how to use personal flotation devices and how to administer first aid as well as other fun water safety-based activities.”
The safety program is funded by the school district and is a newly launched partnership between the Ocean Pines Aquatics Department and Worcester County Public Schools.
Phillips, who believes the children are enjoying the program, said, “We keep it entertaining for them and keep them moving so they don’t get bored.” She went on to say, “The team has really enjoyed working with the children.”