Peek over the Pennybacker Bridge on your commute to work Thursday, and you might catch a glimpse of some of the 50 people swimming 10 kilometers down Lake Austin to raise awareness about the risk of drowning.
The sixth annual Colin’s Hope Got2Swim Lake Austin starts at 7:30 a.m. at Lake Hills Community Beach Park and wraps up more than 6 miles downstream, at the park on the south side of the Pennybacker Bridge, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The swimmers – some of them solo and others on relay teams – hope to raise $50,000 and help prevent future drownings.
So far this year, 69 children in Texas have drowned, and more have survived non-fatal drowning incidents. Many of the drownings were preventable.
Colin’s Hope is an Austin-based nonprofit formed by the family of a Colin Holst, a young boy who drowned in a public swimming pool in the summer of 2008, while lifeguards were on duty.
Thursday’s swim will honor the memory of Colin and other children who have drowned. Each swimmer will carry a flag bearing the name of a child involved in a drowning incident. Their goal is to raise more than $50,000 for Colin’s Hope.
“After Colin’s death, we learned that drowning is the number one cause of accidental death for children under the age of 5 and a leading cause of death for ages 1 to 14, yet it’s preventable,” said Jeff and Jana Holst, Colin’s parents, in a press release. “We knew we had to do something.”
Colin’s Hope helps teach people how to be safer around water.
“We want people to change their behaviors to be safer around water and we want everyone to understand that drowning doesn’t look like they show it in the movies – it is fast and silent,” says executive director Alissa Magrum, who will swim 10K on Thursday. “You have to watch and keep kids in arm’s reach.”
Here are three key steps everyone should take:
- Keep kids in arm’s reach. Practice constant visual supervision. When kids are around water, always assign an “Adult Water Guardian” whose only job is to watch children in the water.
- Learn to swim. For kids under the age of 4, taking formal swim lessons reduces the risk of drowning by 88 percent.
- Wear life jackets. Children who cannot swim or are weak swimmers should always wear a properly fitted, U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket, not floaties or water wings.
For more information go here.