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Stay safe this summer with free kid life jackets and swimming lessons

Stay safe this summer with free kid life jackets and swimming lessons

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There’s nothing quite like jumping in the cool water on a warm day.

But before you do, it’s important to ensure you, and those around you, have taken proper safety measures for enjoying the water, whether that’s for paddle boarding, fishing, waterskiing or time on a boat. With summer around the corner, now is the time to find a local swim course.

And if you live near Possum Kingdom Lake, you have an opportunity June 15 to get a free kids life jacket.

The Water Safety Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 15 at Bug Beach/BRA Public Use Area No. 5, 2760 Frontier Unit Road, in Graford. The first 100 children can receive a free life jacket at the event which will also include fishing opportunities for the youth, hot dogs, a water slide and lots of giveaways. The Brazos River Authority is joining in hosting the event with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the organization Remembering Wyatt Dale Water Safety Awareness. Wyatt was three years old when he died in an accidental drowning at Possum Kingdom Lake in 2013 while not wearing a life jacket, according to the organization’s website.

“Our lives were changed that day, and I believe that with God’s help, we will be better people IF we allow him to work in our lives through this tragedy while touching other families,” the website states. “We want to honor our precious Wyatt by sharing his story, and our mission is to ‘Save Lives One Jacket at a Time.’”

This is the first event of its kind in this area, said Blake Kettler, Possum Kingdom Lake’s Morris Sheppard Dam reservoir manager.

“There’s going to be all kinds of vendors set up there, mainly touching on water safety,” Kettler said.

Bug Beach will be closed to the general public for swimming and camping during the event, he said.

Until the event, remember, no matter the age, it is never too late to learn to swim.

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Outside of the local YMCA, the Red Cross offers swim lessons for older teens and adults. The Learn-to-Swim program offers different courses to meet the varying experience levels of adults from learning the basics to improving skills, to swimming for fitness. Courses are offered throughout the Brazos basin.

The nonprofit U.S. Masters Swimming's Adult Learn-to-Swim initiative offers classes to adults all across the nation.

Swimming is considered the fourth most popular recreational activity in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Roughly 36% of children aged seven to 17 and 15% of adults in the U.S. swim at least six times per year, according to the CDC.

Many municipalities across the Brazos basin offer classes to residents for a more local opportunity to learn to swim.

  • The city of Weatherford offers swimming classes through its parks and recreation department. Residents get a discounted rate, and classes are divided into age groups, from infants to adult courses.
  • In Temple, summer swim lessons are offered to all ages for various skill levels.
  • The city of Georgetown’s parks and recreation department also offers a variety of aquatic programs. Georgetown classes include group swim lessons as well as private swim lessons.
  • The city of Bryan partners with the American Red Cross Learn-to-Swim program to teach swimming and water safety.

Once those swim courses are complete and you feel as natural as a fish in water, there are designated swimming areas set aside by the Brazos River Authority at two of its three reservoirs to enjoy: Possum Kingdom Lake and Lake Granbury. The areas allow swimmers to enjoy an area that keeps watercraft at a distance. Swimming outside those areas puts the person at risk of getting to close to boating activity, or swept up in areas of strong currents.

There are 10 public use areas, scattered across much of the shoreline of Possum Kingdom Lake. These parks offer a variety of amenities, including boat ramps, public restrooms with showers, fire rings, cooking grills, and play areas for children ages 2 to 12.

  • There is a protected swim area at Scenic Cove Campground - 3401 Scenic Point Road in Graford – and Bug Beach Public Use Area - 2760 Frontier Unit Road in Graford - which are each free and open year-round space.
  • North D&D and Sandy Beach - 2291 F.M. 2951 in Graford – each also have a protected swim area and is open year-round and free for children younger than 13.
  • At Lake Granbury, there are swimming opportunities at City Beach - 505 E Pearl St. in Granbury - and DeCordova Bend Park - 7620 Rainey Court in Granbury.

The BRA has several maps available for those looking to enjoy the reservoirs or the river.

 

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