When spring rolls around, I start dreaming of the summer. Sure, I love spring, but I also love swimming, and summer means long afternoons at our local pool. As a child, I spent many summer days swimming, and some of my fondest memories are of spending all day, from early morning until dinner time, with my family at a pool. When BigBrother was born, I couldn’t wait to spend lazy summer days at the pool with him.
As a former competitive swimmer, lifeguard, swim coach, and Water Safety Instructor (WSI), I knew a lot about keeping kids safe in the pool. I knew my children would have swim lessons, and they have. I knew I would teach them about pool safety, like why they should always walk on the deck, only swim with a grown-up around, and listen to the lifeguards. (And they know and follow these rules.) But even though I knew a lot about keeping kids safe in the pool, one trick escaped me: brightly colored bathing suits.
Although water is clear, it can appear blue due to the reflection from the sky or the color of the bottom of the pool. Lifeguards, who sit above the water, may find it harder to see children at the bottom of the pool who are wearing blue or green bathing suits. Seconds matter, and being able to clearly see a swimmer in distress can mean the difference between life and death.
What should you do? Pick bathing suits that are brightly colored. I recommend bright orange, red, or neon colors. Thankfully, these colors are coming back in style and are easier to find than in years past! If you have already bought your child’s bathing suit, or cannot find a brightly colored suit in the right size, consider sewing a strip of brightly colored fabric, rickrack, or ribbon around the hem or waist line. You can also use brightly colored waterproof tape. “Surf shirts” or rash guards are also a great idea and would be useful if your family participates in open-water swimming (beach or lake). If your child is willing, a swim cap is an inexpensive way to make them easier to see.
For little ones who are still in swim diapers and do not wear bathing suits, avoid the disposable swim diapers. While they are convenient, they are all blue. Again, you can put some colored tape on the front and back of the diaper to make it easier to see. If you use cloth diapers, a pocket diaper without the inserts makes a perfect swim diaper. You can also buy a variety of reusable swim diapers that come in fun patterns and bright colors.
While nothing replaces an active, alert adult who is closely watching the children in the water, brightly colored swim clothing is just one trick to keeping your kids safe at the pool.