Drowning is one of the most common causes of death among children in the United States -- it claims more infants' and toddlers' lives than anything except birth defects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Childhood swimming lessons can make a significant difference, YMCA of Greater Cincinnati president and CEO Jorge Perez said. That's why the Y offers many of those lessons for free.
However, the program that teaches young people to keep their heads above water is sinking as it faces a growing shortage of lifeguards who can teach and supervise would-be swimmers.
”We would never let anyone in any of the pools without having enough guards," local lifeguard Carol, who did not share her last name, said. “If we don't have enough guards, we just have to shut a pool or part of a pool."
The shortage is forcing the organization to do so more and more often, Perez said, and that has a real impact on the ability of children to receive a safe, thorough aquatic education.
Perez hopes his organization can hire between 50-100 lifeguards this year. Anyone interested in applying can do so online.