A Lesson in Swimming Following Drowning of Mpls. Teen

Updated: 08/08/2014 5:47 PM
Created: 08/08/2014 4:59 PM
By: Kate Renner

The drowning of 15-year-old Sha-kym Adams Wednesday, while swimming out to a floating dock on Lake Nokomis, was one of 16 drownings this year, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

What often comes out of a tragedy, is a life lesson.

"He was a swimmer, and guess what? You still can drown," said Kimberly Adams, Ska-kym's mother.

Kimberly spoke the day after her son's death, wanting people to take something from her loss.

"And if you don't know how to swim, perfect time to teach yourself or someone to teach you," she said.

That's why some parents at Como Park Pool say swim lessons are a must.

"I feel it's a life lesson they'll never forget," said Abbie Zakrzewski, mother of four.

"You need to be able to get up and get out," Rochelle Chorlton tells her two kids.

The YMCA says we need to raise the expectations we have for kids when it comes to learning this skill.

"What a person needs to be able to do is rescue themselves from an unknown or uncontrollable situation," said Lindsay Mondick, YMCA Association Director of Aquatics.

According to the American Red Cross, less than half of Americans can do it.

Boys between the ages of 11 to 15 fall into a high-risk group for drowning, and the racial disparities are alarming. According to the Centers for Disease Control, black children ages 11 to 12 are ten times more likely to drown than white children that same age.

"Equity and access," said Denny Bennett, Director of Minneapolis Swims.

Bennett is trying to reopen a pool in the Phillips neighborhood. It's in an area with few alternatives.

"By making a year-round pool available, we begin to start that process to make it accessible for people," said Bennett.

Swimming lessons can cost a pretty penny, and range from program to program.

At the YMCA, it's about $100 for non-members and $45 for members, but the "Y" does not turn anyone away. Price adjustments are made based on need.

For the YWCA program it costs members $48, and non-members $84. Scholarships for reduced-price swim lessons are available for YWCA members. Their "Swim for Change" program offers free swim lessons for kids enrolled in community programs.

If you get lessons through the Minneapolis Park and Recreation board, you'll pay about $50 to $60. They offer a fee waiver and won't turn anyone away.

Minneapolis/St. Paul

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