FOX 32 Reporter Darlene Hill learns to swim - FOX 32 News Chicago

FOX 32 Reporter Darlene Hill learns to swim

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Here's a surprising statistic. One-third of adults, 21 or older cannot swim.

Warm weather is just weeks away and sadly, each summer dozens of children and adults drown in the Chicago area because they can't swim.

FOX 32's Darlene Hill is one of those people, but a national program is trying to change that by teaching adults and children how to swim one breath at time.

Overcoming the fear of the water is the first step in learning how to swim as an adult---especially those in their 40's, 50's and 60's.

Personal health, being safe and comfortable in the pool and our competitive nature are some of the reasons why experts say adults want to learn how to swim. Experts say if an adult knows how to swim, they're more likely to make sure their children know how to as well.

"We want the adult to be able to get in there and swim because there's nothing more heartbreaking if you're in Lake Michigan and or somewhere else and the pool is open and an incident were to occur and it was your son or daughter or grandparents and so forth and you don't know how to save yourself let alone them," swim instructor Matt Weaver explains.

That's why groups like U.S. Master Swimming and Swimming Saves Lives are offering free or inexpensive swimming lessons to kids and adults around the nation.

75 percent of children under the age of five drown. And, African-American children are three times more likely to drown than white children.

For Darlene, she says her father’s way of teaching his four children to swim was to push them in while they were walking around the edge of the pool.

“My father jumped in to help but I was 9 years old and since then, while I like getting in the water and playing,” Darlene explains. “You see the anxiety, when I enter the deep end---water that's taller than me.”

Darlene’s instructor Matt Weaver at Galter Life Center helped her with breathing exercises, putting her head under water and he taught her how to float. Learning how to swim won't happen overnight, but she says, she’s willing to be patient.

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