In the aftermath of the drowning of nine-year-old Ranjan, a class IV student of PSBB School, safety aspects at swimming pools have come into question.

“It is hard to imagine how one coach can manage 26 children in a pool at a time. Ideally, there should be a coach for every five to seven students because his line of vision will be limited to five metres. Also, two lifeguards in uniform must monitor the entire pool,” said T. Elango, a coach and owner of V.V. Swimming Pool.

If the children are just beginners then each of them should be coached individually with care, he said.

There are other aspects of safety that requires attention, Mr. Elango pointed out. For instance, there should be lifebuoys and a rope, and the depth of the pool should be clearly indicated on the pool walls. Also, only if the water is clear, can the coach see if a child drowns.

“For clear water, the right amount of chlorine must be added and water should be tested every two months,” he said. When the depth varies from three to seven feet, it is difficult to make out if a child drowns if clarity is poor, he said.It is not always the case that only a beginner drowns, said a swimming coach. “Even good swimmers get tired and when they do, they are also susceptible to drowning,” he said.

In such cases, the coach or the lifeguard must press the victim’s stomach to pump out the water, give cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or chest compressions, and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, he said. For this, he must undergo first-aid training provided by some agencies especially for coaches.

Some schools which are equipped with swimming pools and give regular coaching to their students say utmost care has to be taken while handling children in water.

“We ensure there are only five to six students in the pool at a time. Two coaches and four lifeguards are always on duty,” said Sarah Selvakumari, vice principal of Maharishi International Residential School.

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