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Published: Friday June 27, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Friday June 27, 2014 MYT 9:45:55 AM

The importance of learning to swim

Taking after mum: Four-time Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer and USA Swimming Foundation ambassador Janet Evans says her daughter, Sydney (right), is an avid swimmer and enjoys team competition. – MCT

Taking after mum: Four-time Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer and USA Swimming Foundation ambassador Janet Evans says her daughter, Sydney (right), is an avid swimmer and enjoys team competition. – MCT

Olympic swimmer and mum Janet Evans gives life-saving tips.

Four-time Olympic gold medallist Janet Evans has signed on to be an ambassador for the USA Swimming Foundation and its national “Make A Splash” water safety initiative.

As the new “Make a Splash Mum” and a mother of two, Janet understands the importance of teaching children to swim and has dedicated her work to furthering the cause of battling childhood drowning.

Janet chats with Celebrity Baby Scoop about the importance of learning to swim and how the USA Swimming Foundation is working to decrease drowning rates among children through the “Make A Splash” initiative.

Tell us about your role as ambassador for the USA Swimming Foundation and its national “Make A Splash” water safety initiative. What will you do as a “Make a Splash Mum”?

As a USA Swimming Foundation ambassador and “Make A Splash” mum, my goal is to encourage parents to enroll their children in swim lessons. Drowning is an epidemic in this country. It crosses all socioeconomic levels and the statistics are staggering – an average of 10 drowning deaths are reported each day in the United States.

“Make A Splash” also focuses on providing free and/or low-cost swim lessons to those who might not have access or expendable finances for lessons. Every child (and adult!) in this country needs to know how to swim and feel comfortable in the water. I am proud of the USA Swimming Foundation for taking an active role in teaching children how to save their own lives and am honoured to be a part of it.

What inspired you to join the initiative?

I am a mum of two young children and live in Southern California. Even before I had children, I would read about drownings in and around our county. My parents put my brothers and I in swim lessons when I was very young (18 months) because my mum can’t swim. 

The gift my parents gave us of teaching us how to swim was not taken for granted, and I committed to get my children swimming as early as I felt comfortable. Swimming is both a life skill and a lifesaving skill. I don’t see it as a luxury, I view it as an imperative.

What are some of your top life-saving tips to protect children from drowning?

My number one tip is to get your kids accredited swim instruction. The risk of drowning is reduced by 88% when children take formal swim lessons. Not far behind is a reminder to never take your eyes off your children while they’re in water, even if you think they are water safe. No one is completely secure around the water, as accidents happen, where even the best swimmers can run into trouble.

Similarly, do not depend on lifeguards. While they’re well trained and proficient, they might be watching dozens of kids in a pool at one time. Drowning is silent. It happens in two minutes and can easily be missed in a crowded pool.

Also, please install a self-closing gate if you have a backyard pool and/or jacuzzi, and learn CPR.

Tell us about your two children. What are their names and ages, and what do they like to do for fun?

My daughter Sydney is seven. She has boundless energy and loves all things sports. She loves her weekly tennis lessons but her two favourite sports are skiing and swimming. In the spring and summer, she’s in the pool with her swim team and then on the slopes all winter as part of the Mammoth Mountain ski team.

My son, Jake, is four. He’s a bit mellower. I can put a Lego set in front of him and he will work on it for hours. But he likes swimming, too. He swam in his first meet this past weekend and is already asking when he can swim in another one.

What are the main differences between raising a boy and raising a girl?

That question makes me laugh! It has to be the drama that comes with raising a girl. I like to joke that my daughter is seven going on 20 and my son is four going on two. She can’t wait to grow up and experience life while my son is perfectly content to hang with me and tells me that every day.

Do you think they will also get into competitive swimming like their mum?

Sydney loves her competitive swim team so I have somehow become a swim parent. However, I am very cognisant about giving her other opportunities, so swimming is just one of the sports she participates in. If she eventually decides to make swimming her “full time” sport, I will completely support her . . . but it is 100% her decision. Jake loves emulating his big sister, so I am sure if she gets more serious about swimming, he will join the team as well.

What kind of mum would they say you are? What is your parenting style like?

I think of myself as a relatively mellow mum who is disciplined about specific things – bedtimes, chores, cleaning their rooms, how they eat, etc. My big philosophy is the same one my parents had: if you are going to do something – swim team, ski team, tennis, piano lessons, etc – and my husband or I are going to work hard to get them to their practices/lessons, they will do it right. And if they decide they don’t want to do a specific activity, then they just have to say so.

I won’t make my kids participate in something they don’t want to. I have never met a single successful athlete or person who said they did something because their parents made them. All success comes from within.

What are your greatest joys and challenges of motherhood?

Challenges – finding time in the day to get it all done! Joys – all the moments in between getting things done, which are many. As most mums will tell you, motherhood is hands down the best job ever.

Do you have any plans for summer?

We are going camping in Yosemite. Real camping. It will be my first time ever, we’ll see how it goes. Sydney has been begging us for the past year, probably because my husband loves to camp and is always telling her how fun it is. Wish me luck.

What other upcoming projects do you have?

My top priorities are being a mum and serving as ambassador for the USA Swimming Foundation and its “Make A Splash” initiative.

I am also enjoying giving motivational speeches for various companies and organisations on a frequent basis.

And finally, I am working with a restaurant called Lyfe Kitchen that is currently opening in locations throughout the country. We focus on good-for-you food that tastes good, too. It’s a perfect place for busy mums who want their families to eat healthy but might not have the chance to prepare the ideal meal every evening. – Celebritybabyscoop.com/McClatchy Tribune Information Services

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle, Family Community, Janet Evans, Swimming, Safety

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