WASHINGTON — A lot of people are heading to the water this weekend, and they’ll be doing even more of that for the next few months. But it turns out that a lot of people can’t swim as well as they think they can.
A survey conducted for the Red Cross finds that 80 percent of people say they can swim, but only 58 percent have what Red Cross spokeswoman Rebecca Callahan describes as competent swimming skills.
The swim skills include being able to step or jump into water that’s over your head, and then float or tread water for about a minute, turn in a circle in the water, find a way out and swim 25 yards to get there. And if you’re in a swimming pool, you need to be able to get out without the use of a ladder.
That means a lot of people out there who think they can swim, but really can’t.
Callahan says two towns in Maryland — Upper Marlboro and Towson — are among 50 nationwide that have the highest drowning rates.
The Red Cross has a plan to ramp up swimming-instruction efforts in those 50 towns in an effort to bring the drowning rates down 50 percent.