Learn to swim, Mitch Daniels urges adults

Purdue president displays his ‘terrible mechanics’ on behalf of Swimming Saves Lives Foundation initiative

A few months ago, Kevin Johnston couldn’t swim one length of the Purdue Aquatic Center pool.

Now he can swim more than a mile. On Monday afternoon, he and Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University, were in the last lane of the busy pool.

Daniels, a recreational swimmer who swims a mile once or twice a week, was helping to promote Adult Learn to Swim Month, hoping to reverse alarming statistics.

More than a third of American adults cannot swim the length of a 25-yard pool, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, putting them at risk of drowning. Ten people drown every day in the United States. Drowning is the fifth-leading cause of unintentional deaths from injury.

“What a tragedy, losing 10 Americans a day — and so very preventable,” Daniels said. “I was happy to demonstrate my terrible mechanics if it will help get a couple more people in the pool.”

U.S. Masters Swimming and the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation are hoping that creating additional awareness about the importance of learning to swim will mean fears about the water aren’t passed down to children — and that adults learn how important swimming skills are to saving lives.

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