Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1-4, but in most cases it’s 100% preventable. And while swimming lessons don’t necessarily “drown-proof” your kids, they do provide one of the critical layers of drowning protection.1

We know what you’re probably thinking … “I always watch my kids while they’re in the pool, so they’re fine.” Unfortunately, that’s not always enough. In fact, 88% of child drownings occur with at least one adult present, according to the National Drowning Prevention Alliance.

Just recently, a Florida dad was caught on camera diving over a 4-foot-high safety fence to rescue his young son who had ventured around the fence and fallen into their backyard swimming pool. The video of the dad’s superhero-like rescue went viral, including his honest admission that the safety fence didn’t completely surround the pool. 

“Layers of Protection” to Help Prevent Accidental Drowning

To help prevent accidental drowning, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends creating “layers of protection” to help keep curious kids and toddlers safe in and around swimming pools. These measures include: 

  • Swimming lessons
  • Secure pool fencing
  • Alarms on pools
  • Doors and gates
  • Pool covers 
  • Window guards for windows that face the pool
  • Designated “Water Watchers” to pay constant attention to children in the water
  • Life jackets
  • CPR training for parents, caregivers, and pool owners

The Importance of Swimming Lessons for Kids

There is evidence that many children over the age of 1 benefit from swimming lessons. Although estimates are imprecise, one study showed an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning among 1- to 4-year-old children who had participated in formal swimming lessons.2 Additionally, learning how to swim is a great “gateway skill” to other healthy and fun activities, such as sailing, water skiing, canoeing, diving, and fishing. Swimming lessons are often available at community pools, recreation centers, and summer camps – contact them to see what they offer.

Lessons from Lylah

Lylah was the 2-year-old daughter of Air Force Master Sergeant Josh Gavulic, who died during military training exercises in 2014, leaving Lylah and her five siblings fatherless. Thirteen months after their father’s death, Lylah and her siblings were on a waiting list for the “Angels of America’s Fallen” program, which offers healthy activities like swimming lessons for children of America’s fallen military and first responders. Tragically, Lylah drowned in her family’s swimming pool before she ever got to participate in the program. If Lylah had learned to swim, she might be alive today. That’s why Angels of America’s Fallen started Lessons from Lylah, a children’s swim initiative committed to offering swimming lessons to the children of America’s fallen in Lylah’s honor. 

By creating “layers of protection,” like swimming lessons for your kids, you can help prevent drowning incidents at the pool.


1Denny, S.A., et al. (May 2019). Prevention of Drowning, Policy Statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Vol. 143, Issue 5.

2Brenner, R.A., et al. (2009). Association between swimming lessons and drowning in childhood: a case-control study. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 163(3):203-210.