We don’t see a lot of children drown on the beach like you do in inland waterways, pools, drainage ditches, wells, etc.

That’s why last weekend when we almost lost a 3-year-old, it shook us up.

Fortunately, the little girl was only under for a short time before parents, bystanders and the lifeguard were right on top of it.

The guard started artificial respiration immediately, and she ended up being OK after a couple of days in the hospital.

No drowning is good, and one involving a child is especially tough. We were happy to end a holiday weekend of very hard work and long hours with no drownings on the island.

But there is much, much more to the chain of drowning prevention besides an effective lifeguard service.

The No. 1 way to prevent drowning is to learn to swim.

In the United States, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children younger than 14.

Seventy percent of African-American children, 60 percent of Hispanic children and 40 percent of Caucasian children cannot swim.

We live on an island where no one is more than a mile and a half from water. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of water you can learn to swim in. In fact, it’s really dangerous to try to teach a kid to swim in the beach or in open water.

Unlike most of the cities in our area, we have no public pool in which to teach swimming lessons or provide other aquatic programs in.

According to USA Swimming, the risk of drowning drops 88 percent by participation in formal swimming lessons.

The good news is the most recent attempt to build a community pool is coming close to success.

Supporters have raised $1.7 million, which is almost half the needed funds, and have $1.9 million to go. That’s only $50 per person on the island.

They recently received a big challenge grant from the Moody Foundation and need to raise the balance to receive it.  

In my opinion, the plan is solid, and choosing the site of Lasker Park is right on the mark.

The city already owns the land. Sixty-nine percent of the kids on the island live within 2 miles of the site.

There will be two pools — a shallow walk-in pool with water features and slide, and a competitive eight-lane pool. Programs will include swimming lessons, training for rescue teams, lifeguard training, water aerobics and swimming competitions, scuba classes and more; all of which will generate income.

Your help and support is needed to make the community pool a reality. Donations of any size will help meet the Moody Foundation’s challenge grant.  

Tax-deductible gifts (checks or MasterCard or Visa) may be sent to Galveston Community Pool, c/o Barbara Sanderson, director, Parks and Recreation, McGuire Dent Recreation Center, 2222 28th St, Galveston, TX 77550, or call 409-621-3177.

This is the same community that elevated the island and built the seawall. A pool should be easy if we all pitch in.

On the Beach

Peter Davis is chief of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol. The views in this column are Davis’ and do not necessarily represent those of the Beach Patrol, Galveston Park Board of Trustees or any other entity. Information on the Beach Patrol is at galvestonbeachpatrol.com.

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