Community partnership teaching water safety for all ages

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 3:41 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - After months in the making, NSEA (Northside Elite Aquatics) partnered with the City of Wilmington to take a deep dive and join the American Red Cross in an effort to reduce drownings in the Cape Fear region.

“For our community, as a water-based community, what we would like to have is an eco-system of water safety. Water is a constant source of joy for us, but it’s also a constant threat of danger. And so, to the extent that we can spread swim capability, we can make a safer community that’s able to enjoy the beautiful natural resources we have at our disposal,” said NSEA Swim president Dr. Philip Brown.

Wilmington is considered high risk for drownings, but it’s no different than any of our other coastal communities. Last year in the state of North Carolina more than 100 people died from drowning, and not just young children, that’s why leaders are focused on education.

“So, it’s really for all ages, certainly we like to start with children, if at all possible, they’re extremely high risk for drowning, but with that said, we want to make it available to everybody, and that’s an important part of our program,” Brown said.

The effort to teach water safety is not just about swim lessons but for some it’s simply feeling comfortable around the water before they take a deep dive into a pool or the waves, like Najea Claudio’s 10-year-old son.

He recently started swim lessons, but before that it was all about getting him used to being around the water.

“We came from New Jersey, now that we live in Wilmington, it’s a big peninsula between the ocean and the river, it’s vital for him to know how to swim,” Claudio said. “He loves the pool. He never really knew how to swim, now he’s learning. He’s always been comfortable in the pool, and I just feel like after he gains the complete comfortability, I can see him trying out for the swim team in the next year, year and half hopefully.”

The overall goal for this partnership is “to bring the ability and opportunity to swim and enjoy the water to every community starting right here in Wilmington’s northside and hopefully growing throughout Southeast North Carolina,” Brown said. “Together we can do great things and create a safer community.”

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