Children have a place to cool off this summer in Fresno.
Five learner pools in the city will have free, recreational swimming beginning June 11. And free swim lessons for 200 children will be offered at Edison High School’s pool.
Community pools at Fink-White, Pinedale, Quigley, Einstein and Romain neighborhood centers will be open from 1-5 p.m. Monday-Friday to children under age 12 for recreational swimming. Teens and adults can swim for free from 5-8 p.m.
A grant for the sixth year from Kaiser Permanente Fresno is paying for the pools to be open. Kaiser also is paying for the free swim lessons at Edison and is supporting a junior lifeguard program to train teenagers as lifeguards. The city of Fresno is hoping to raise money to add more free swim lessons at Edison and to offer free lessons at Mclane High School, said spokesman Mark Standriff.
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Swim lessons are available for a $75 fee per session at Fresno, Bullard, Sunnyside and Hoover high school pools in Fresno.
In Kerman, a $1,000 grant from the Water Safety Council of Fresno County is allowing the city to offer free swim lessons this summer to about 28 low-income children. Applications for the free lessons can be picked up at the Kerman Community Center.
“If you have an opportunity to take swimming lessons, that is an absolute recommendation,” said Mary Jo Quintero, program coordinator for the water safety program at Valley Children’s Hospital. So far this summer, there have been 11 water-related injuries involving children in the Valley and two have been fatalities, she said.
The latest drowning occurred in Mendota on Saturday. Four-year-old Emily Lopez of Fresno was swept away in the San Joaquin River with her father, 33-year-old Alejandro Valencia.
Valencia and his daughter were with family members when Emily and three other children ran out to a sandbar in shallow water, the Fresno County Coroner’s office said. As they played, the current took the children downstream. Adults jumped in and were able to pull three of the children out of the water. Valencia grabbed his daughter, but the two went underwater and never resurfaced. Divers with the Sheriff’s Dive Team found the father and daughter deceased at the bottom of the river, about 50 feet from the sandbar.
No one in the group knew how to swim, the coroner’s office said.
The coroner’s office reminds people that although it is hot outside, the temperature of the water remains cold and currents can be stronger than they appear. And there can be debris in the water which is difficult to see and can be dangerous for swimmers. Mud on the bottom of lakes and rivers also can be easy for feet to become stuck and to sink in some spots.
Quintero said she is concerned there will be more water-related injuries this summer and she offers these water safety tips:
▪ Children should always be supervised when they are around water and the supervision should be non-distracted supervision – no cell phone texting, etc. Young children under 5 years who are in water should be no farther than an arm’s length away from an adult.
▪ Around large bodies of water, adults and children (including older children) should wear Coast Guard-approved life jackets that are the right size and style. Floaties and swim aid devices are not recommended.
And Quintero recommends parents learn CPR. If the family knows how to do CPR there is an opportunity for a better outcome from a water related event, she said.