Swimmers escaping summer heat urged to be careful in the water

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The extreme heat has people packing area pools and Lake Pontchartrain, and Red Cross instructors say it's important for everyone to be comfortable in and around the water.

Frankie Guidry-London looks forward to water aerobics class every Tuesday morning.

"I like the fellowship gathering, although Miss Daisy works us - every muscle," Guidry-London said. "We have a great time with the music, and this environment is so good."

Guidry-London and more than two dozen other swimmers splashed in the Sanchez Center pool, keeping cool as the temperature outside soared.

Attendance numbers at NORD pools are up 13 percent this summer.

"Last year, it was right at 71,000 going into week number eight, and right now, we've already broken over 80,000," said Vic Richard.

Other swimmers are heading to the lake, where two children and a man drowned in separate incidents just this month.

Coach Jeffery Parker of the American Red Cross believes everyone needs to know how to swim before going in the water and should be comfortable around it.

"Even your strong swimmers have to be aware of the environment, the areas where they're swimming, because the water changes," Parker said. "You have sinkholes, you have rip currents, you have different things in the water, and even your strong swimmers, if they're not taught how to get out of rip currents, they can get caught in a rip current."

While many programs are wrapping up swim lessons for the summer, Parker said some local universities and community centers have programs that continue into the fall.

The Stallings St. Claude Recreation Center in the Bywater opens this Friday, with a newly renovated pool opening in the next few weeks.

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