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Swim Safely


We couldn't wait to dive in to the boating and swimming day trips featured in the August issue of Kids VT. But our enthusiasm evaporated when we heard the tragic news that 12-year-old Bentley Seifer of Burlington had drowned at the Bolton Potholes. A week later, 2-year-old Raymeir Smith of Brattleboro died at the Vernon Dam swimming area.

The death of a child is every parent's worst nightmare. Our hearts go out to the families of Bentley and Raymeir.

These tragedies are a reminder that it's never too early to start teaching kids about water safety. Many Vermont organizations, such as the YMCA, offer swimming lessons and water-safety education. This month, Seven Days multimedia producer Eva Sollberger filmed an episode of her web video series "Stuck in Vermont" at the Myers Municipal Pool in Winooski, where the Greater Burlington YMCA has been offering free swim lessons to Winooski youth. Find her video on our website, kidsvt.com.

On July 25, Jaimie Held, director of aquatic programs at the Greater Burlington Y, appeared on Vermont Public Radio's "Vermont Edition" to talk about swimmer safety. Held recommended against swimming alone and for designating a "water watcher" on occasions when multiple adults are in the swimming area.

Held made two other good points: Beginning swimmers should stay within arm's reach of an adult, and U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices are always a good idea.

Ultimately, though, even our best efforts to keep our kids safe can fail. That's a compelling argument to make the most of the time we have together. As these long days of summer shorten into school nights loaded with homework, find time to savor the season with your kids.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.