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Rising To The Challenge

May 08, 2018 09:43AM ● Published by Ashley Madonna

                                                                                                      Photo courtesy of North Star Aquatic Safety Instruction

As the summer quickly approaches, more locals will be cooling off by diving into the water. While swimming can be a great way to get in a little exercise or relax on a warm day, water emergencies can quickly become life threatening. So The Swim4Elise Foundation is calling North Texas swimmers to step up and participate in the 100 Lifeguard Challenge.

The foundation plans to sponsor 100 North Texas high school or club swimmers and their coaches to take a deeper dive into in-water safety skills by getting their Lifeguard Certification through American Red Cross. Their goal is to assist 100 swimmers and coaches in getting certified by December 31, 2018.

The Swim4Elise Foundation was created to promote water safety and honor 13-year-old Elise Cerami, who fatally drowned during a swim practice in 2016. She knew how to swim. Elise had been a competitive swimmer for more than seven years, logging over 700 races in both club and rec swimming. But on June 20, 2016, she was warming up at practice and was found unresponsive on the bottom of the pool.

And she’s not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings occurred annually from 2005-2014 in the United States. That averages out to about 10 deaths per day. So, the foundation provides community outreach education as an effort to raise awareness of water safety and drowning prevention.

“You can only save what you can see, and only if you are prepared with the in-water skills to save them,” says founder and Elise’s mother, Lori Cerami.

So far, about 20 people have signed up and participated in this challenge. One of which is high school student Rachel Boeck. She started swimming at seven years old, and she decided she wanted to participate to know how to effectively respond if something ever happened in the water.

“It’s important that everyone understands the risk associated with being around the water and that they have the knowledge to react responsibly in an emergency to reduce the number of accidents in or around water,” Boeck says.  

Another advocate for this certification is high school swim coach Hannah Decker. She started swimming at 10 years old, and now prides her work combining her two passions: swimming and helping people.

“Being a lifeguard gives me the confidence and tools to rescue and educate those who I coach and/or friends and family how to be safe in the water, which means everything,” Decker says.

Local swimmers can rise to the occasion and join these two in their efforts by getting certified. There are still scholarships available in the challenge. Candidates can apply on the foundation’s website

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