Local swimming instructors share cautionary advice on avoiding water-related incidents

Swimming instructors at the Marion YMCA say learning how to swim is just as important as having a well-fitted life jacket around at all times.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says at least four people have died in water-related incidents within the last five days--two of which were children.

A spike in water-related deaths over the last few days has local experts voicing safety concerns for anyone looking to go out into the water.

"You can turn your head for 20 seconds and someone goes under," said Zac Hornung, the Aquatic Director at YMCA in Marion.

He and his team know how dangerous the waters can be, which is why they work to prepare people of all ages for those dangers at their pool.

"Floating and kicking and different strokes--different resting strokes--and knowing survival things," said Hornung.

The swimming instructors at the YMCA say their lessons are for more than just swimming in pools, but also in lakes and rivers.

"If you can get to a bank, if you can get to some type of rope or maybe if a tree brush is in the water or something," said Hornung.

There is one thing that remains the same no matter where people choose to swim: the need for a life jacket. The Iowa DNR says of the drowning cases across the nation, 84% of people involved were not wearing a life jacket. .

"It's not a save-all, be-all, but it is a huge deal," said Hornung.

A report by the Iowa DNR shows not knowing how to swim and not wearing a life jacket are some of the main causes of drowning in the state. That's why it's so important to make sure the life jacket is the right size.

"If you get one that's too big and you go in the water you can slip right out of it. The biggest thing is getting one that's too small because it won't necessarily keep you above float; above water," said Seth Gilmore, an associate at Play It Again Sports in Cedar Rapids where they sell life jackets.

When picking out a life jacket, Gilmore says it's important to know what style fit works best for you.

"The orange ones like you see here--they go by chest size. The more popular neoprene style go by the weight of the individual," said Gilmore.

In addition to having a life jacket and knowing how to swim, both Hornung and Gilmore agree it's best to try to avoid going in the water alone.

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