Survey Shows Americans Believe They're Better Swimmers Than They - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Survey Shows Americans Believe They're Better Swimmers Than They Actually Are

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ARDMORE, OK -- As the mercury rises, going for a swim in the pool or nearby lake to cool off probably sounds like a great idea.

But the American Red Cross says many Americans overestimate their abilities in the water.

A recent national survey found 80 percent of Americans say the can swim.

However, only 56 percent can perform the five basic skills the American Red Cross says could save their life in the water.

"Some of the things they're calling swimming, it's not swimming," said Pamela Pearson, co-manager and lifeguard at the Ardmore Water Park.

Lifeguards at Ardmore's Community Water Park say they speak to a handful of people who say they can swim, but can't.

"More times than I would like to admit to," said Pearson. "It happens all the time actually, daily."

The Red Cross's five skills are:
Step or jump into the water over your head; Return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute; Turn around in a full circle and find an exit; Swim 25 yards to the exit; and Exit from the water.  If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder.

In addition to the skills needed to be safe in the water, lifeguards and teaching instructors say a certain comfort level is needed in and around the water for swimmers to be safe.

"The more skills you have towards water then that confidence level and comfort level becomes better and better," said Anita Story, a instructional trainer with the Red Cross. "And that panic mode does not set in as heavily."

Rebekah Hobbs, whose two kids are regulars at the pool, says introducing swimming at an early age helps teach proper skills.

"Definitely," said Hobbs. "They've been swimming since they were babies. Two and three years old."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention an average of 10 people die from unintentional drowning every day.

"They don't think about being in the water and that they could end up in the water so people don't think about water safety year round and they really should," said Story.

Nationwide, the Red Cross says drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children and sixth for people of all ages.