Recent accidents highlight importance of swimming

Recent accidents highlight importance of swimming

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Two recent accidents on the water have many stressing the importance of swimming.

North Charleston police are investigating after a child was found in a pond on the 4200 block of Bonaparte Dr Tuesday afternoon.

Police say the child stepped away from a grandparents yard, ended up in the pond and was transported to the hospital.

On Saturday night, two people died in a boating accident on Lake Moultrie.

Jake Williams, 51, of Summerville; and Nathaniel Hawkins, 46, of North Charleston, were passengers on the boat, Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury said.

Both victims were thrown from the boat while the boat was making a turn. Both deaths were ruled accidental.

"We had one gentlemen that was holding on to his friend, the gentlemen could not swim and his friend did his very best to hold on to him and he was not able to hold him and he actually went down," Salisbury said.

To Kathleen Wilson, a local swim instructor, these stories highlight a need in the Lowcountry.

"We are surrounded by water and at least half of the adult population has some degree of fear of water, maybe not shallow, but certainly deep water, and has very limited swimming ability," Wilson said.

In 2011, Wilson, a marathon swimmer and city of Charleston council member, wanted to do something to help.

She started a program called "Swim Calm," teaching adults how to swim.

"I wouldn't get in the water before the lessons," 61-year-old Suzi Decker said.

Decker never learned how to swim as a child.  In her adult years, water scared her.

"It was paralyzing, paralyzing," Decker said. "We'd go out in the boat and I would be terrified."

Decker started lessons with Wilson last year, just after her 60th birthday.

"Within a week, I was swimming in the deep end, happy as a clam," Decker said.

"Suzi, she was a terrific student," Wilson said. "She came to me very tentative and very afraid of the water."

Wilson worked with Decker at her own pace, in a group.

Now, Decker is a confident swimmer.

"I can swim breast stroke," Decker said. "I can turn over from my stomach to my back, from my back to my stomach."
They're simple things to some, but, to Decker, they're milestones.

"This has been the greatest thing I've ever done," Decker said.

For more information the Swim Calm program, click HERE.

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