BERLIN — More than 300 Worcester County Public School fourth-graders were able to dip their toes into water safety this fall at the indoor, heated Sports Core Pool in Ocean Pines with the help of a continued partnership with Ocean Pines Aquatics, Ocean City Beach Patrol, Ocean Pines Fire Department and Worcester County Public Schools.
“The Aquatics Department takes great pride in making sure that area children have the skills to save themselves in situations regarding water safety,” said Colby Phillips, director of Aquatics and Recreation in Ocean Pines.
Students, ages 9-10, from Ocean City Elementary, Berlin Intermediate and Buckingham Elementary schools participated in a seven-week water safety program that wrapped up on Thursday, Dec. 6.
Out of the 322 school students who have completed the program, 102 were in the beginner’s group and were taught the basics of learning how to swim, float and properly enter the water.
“There were twin brothers from Buckingham Elementary School who were afraid of the water the first day and by the end we couldn’t get them out,” said Phillips. “Many of the students had never even put their heads under the water.”
Data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control shows that every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger.
“The importance of this program for the youth of our seaside community cannot be stressed enough,” said Ocean Pines Aquatics Program Supervisor Julie Winterling.
This safety program, which is funded by the school district, demonstrates the importance of the Ocean Pines Aquatics Department to Worcester County.
“It truly took a community to put this on and give the children the best all-around safety program we could,” said Phillips. “I would like to thank my Aquatics team for putting on such a great program, in addition, the Ocean City Beach Patrol, Ocean Pines paramedics and students who volunteered from Stephen Decatur High School in helping make this program such a success.”
Phillips thanked the Worcester County Commissioners and the Worcester County Board of Education (BOE) for supporting the program.
“Jennifer Sills with the BOE helped to plan and execute this program and for that we say thank you,” she said.