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Ocean's Embrace: Healing Waters, Soothing Soul

I love the ocean. I used to love pools too when I was younger, but the older I got the less tolerant I became of the smell of chlorine to the point where I no longer wish to be around it. So yes, I definitely prefer oceans and lakes over pools at this time in my life. I am not a strong swimmer, never have been. Took years of lessons but never made it past advanced beginner. As my mother told me I did not have to be good at swimming, or graceful, I just had to learn “how not to drown” That I accomplished. So I am not graceful in the water, but I do enjoy frolicking in the waves.

I am very much a New England girl when it comes to where I have swum. Cape Ann, Cape Cod, Hampton Beach, Maine Coast, Lakes in the Berkshires, Walden Pond, Rhode Island, The only places I have ventured “far” from home to swim was New York, which really is not that great a distance in the scheme of things.

Everywhere I went I have kept my mother’s safety rules in mind. Sometimes because I was a child and she was right there, and sometimes as an adult because they still make sense to me. If you are not a strong swimmer, do not go out to far and do not go out over your head where you cannot stand and still have your face above the waterline when there are not waves coming. If you really do not swim well at all, do not go much deeper than your thighs particularly in the ocean. People in the water can panic and drown just from a combination of deep water and fear. Much as I love the water you will never find me over my head in the ocean, I am very conservative about my approach in that regard. Often I also do not go near to getting my face wet so that I may keep my prescription sunglasses on so that I can still see. And I always have a backup pair with me so that I can replace them if something unfortunate happens.

Even though pools do not have currents and tides, we need to be careful there as well. Small children can run off and fall in if not being watched. I once accidentally ended up in the deep end of a pool and went under a few times when I was young. One of the “big kids” jumped in and pushed me into the shallow end. I was panicking and thought I was going to die. It was unlikely given that my Dad and the owner of the pool were both running to jump in and push me into the shallow end, it was just the older girl got there first. After that the rule was I had to wear a life jacket when I went into this pool at this friend of my Dad’s. Floatation devices for young children and people who are not strong swimmers can be useful as an additional safety aide but do not take the place of keeping a close eye on the young ones. Children, especially the very young, are not developmentally able to make sound decisions about what is and is not safe in terms of water safety. Event through the elementary and middle school years children require some level of supervision to ensure that they practice safe habits in pools and other bodies of water. As your child ages, you adapt your supervision to your child’s age and unique needs. You know your child and what their needs are.

Bearing in mind a few safety rules, your time in the water can be a great deal of fun. Just be careful and then enjoy. And make sure you reapply your sunblock after prolonged time swimming or playing in the water!

by Julie Morse

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