Summer drownings prompt water safety campaign

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WICHITA, Kansas– With more than a dozen drownings already this summer, a Wichita swim team is launching what they hope is a lifesaving campaign.

The Aqua Shocks are teaching more swim lessons just for adults, especially minorities.  The team believes everyone should know basic water safety skills.

“I believe it’s being proved this year with the drownings we’ve had at lakes,” said Aqua Shocks coach, Steve Buehne.  “People think they know how to swim, but they don’t.

Just last month, a man drowned at El Dorado Lake, just 15 feet from shore. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control says most drowning victims are adults.

“I went whitewater rafting about a year ago, and our boat tipped over,” said Rosalyn Burks.

That close call convinced Burks to take swim lessons.  Also in the class is KSN’s  Kianga Kelley.

“I went to Hawaii to go snorkeling, but I couldn’t even enjoy the water because I couldn’t swim, or I didn’t feel comfortable enough,” said Kelley.

She’s now practicing her strokes, but learning to float is even more important. In deep water, floating could save your life.

MoonMoon Chakravarthy is finally learning to swim at age 33. Her 6-year-old daughter inspired her.

“My daughter is very keen on learning swimming, and she’s taking the lessons so I thought I would join with her,” said Chakravarthy.

Very often, the parents’ fear of water is passed on to their children, but time, money, even culture influences who takes swim lessons.

The USA Swimming Foundation reports 70% of African-American children and 60% of Latino kids cannot swim, compared to 40% of white children.

Discrimination and the lack of access to pools could be one reason.

“You had white pools, and you might have had a black pool, but we weren’t allowed into those areas so when were you going to learn?” said Kelley. “So it was just passed down generation to generation.”

“There are many international students here (at WSU),” said Buehne. “I will have them come up to me during my swim practice, asking me to help them.”

Starting in the fall, the Aqua Shocks will double the number of swim classes they offer just for adults, focusing on safety and fun.

“I want to go parasailing. I want to go scuba diving,” said Burks.

Kianga’s goal is Hawaii.

“I always said I am going to go back, and I’m going to learn how to swim so I can enjoy certain things like this in the future,” said Kelley.

If you interested in fall swim classes, called the Wichita Aqua Shocks coach, Steve Buehne, at 316-641-4301.

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