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Swimming in clothes can teach kids lifesaving skills at Aqua-Tots in Mount Laurel, New Jersey

Teaching kids lifesaving skills through swimming in clothes in Mount Laurel, New jersey
Teaching kids lifesaving skills through swimming in clothes in Mount Laurel, New jersey 02:01

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (CBS) -- According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the number one cause of death for children between the ages of 1-4 but swim lessons can save lives.

At Aqua-Tots in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, instructors encourage kids to take some of their lessons in clothes instead of swimsuits to prepare if they ever unexpectedly end up in the water.

"They feel how heavy their clothes are so that feeling could make them feel like they're sinking because the clothes will pull them down," Andrea Sahl, Aqua-Tots owner in Mount Laurel, said.

This is the first time the swim school tried the "clothes-on" approach and Sahl believes it will help kids understand they can still swim in clothes and possibly prevent them from panicking.

Shamya Kae enrolled her 10-month-old daughter in classes to get her acclimated to the water. She plans on continuing classes for years to come.

"Clearly accidents happen and if, say they're at home by their pool and they accidentally fall in, they do have their clothes on, they know OK, even with my clothes on, I know how to swim to safety or save myself," Kae said.

Earlier this month, the CDC released a new study showing drowning deaths are on the rise in the United States, following decades of decline. The study also found about 15% of adults do not know how to swim and more than half have never taken a swimming lesson. The numbers are higher among Black and Hispanic adults who might not have had access to lessons.

The CDC recommends looking for accessible and affordable options for families through community-based organizations at the following links:

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