Georgetown County schools could get new rip current escape course for kids

GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) – Dozens of ocean rescues this summer along the Grand Strand prompted discussion for solutions.

One of those solutions came from a partnership between the YMCA, Georgetown County School District, Georgetown County Parks and Recreation and the Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation.

These partners already have the “Y Splash Program” which is a swim lesson program offered to all second graders in Georgetown County schools. It’s a program free of charge to families and brings the second graders to the YMCA once a week for four weeks.

“It’s a very good program. It’s critical especially for where we live with all the waterways, the rivers, the inlets and the ocean,” said Aquatics Director, Michelle Krenzer.

However, COO Shane Riffle says they want to enhance the program by adding a rip current escape course.

“There’s been some tragedies in our area with children and even adults getting caught in rip currents,” said Riffle. “It’s much different to actually feel what a rip current is like than to just talk about it. Anything we can do to simulate that through some kind of training would be helpful.”

Riffle presented the idea to the Georgetown County School Board last week and said it seemed to catch on.

“Now we’re doing our research and due diligence looking to identify some potential funding for the project,” said Riffle. “There is equipment that we’ll need to purchase.”

That equipment could come in the form of an “endless pool.” Riffle said it can be mounted on a pool deck and shoot water out like a rip current.

“So we could put children into the current and teach them how to swim out and not against the current,” said Riffle.

Riffle and the school district have identified this plan as a strategic priority in Georgetown for 2017, and also hope to bring it to Horry County.

“We have a lot of great ideas to make sure that we’re reaching everyone in the community through school systems and through other child care providers. We’d really like to make this large-scale in our serve area which is Horry and Georgetown counties,” added Riffle.

For more information on the Y Splash Program, click here.

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