Olympic Gold Medalist Talks Near Drowning Experience; PHL 17’s Khiree Stewart Takes Swimming Lessons

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 4,000 people die from drowning in the United States each year. Drowning is also the second leading cause of death for children under the age of 14 years-old.

That’s the reason why olympic gold medalist, Cullen Jones, is promoting the importance of learning how to swim.

Jones almost drowned at a water park when he was five years-old. His parents signed him up for swimming lesson a week later.

He says it took him three years to learn how to swim and that’s when his competitive nerve kicked in. He swam in competitions throughout high school and college. When he was 24, he made it on the olympic team.

Jones currently holds two gold and silver medals and has partnered with the USA Swimming Foundation for their Make A Splash initiative.

The program offers free or low cost swimming lessons to 1 million children this year.

According to the USA Swimming Foundation, nearly 64 percent of African-American children, 45 percent of Hispanic children and 40 percent of Caucasian children have no or low swimming ability, putting them at risk for drowning.

PHL 17’s Khiree Stewart decided to take his first swimming lessons at the YMCA in Roxborough. Their aquatics director, Nicole Rudnitsky, served as his instructor.

On the first day, Khiree practiced blowing bubbles and getting acclimated with the water.

On day two, Khiree practiced swimming on his stomach. It took him a while, but but the third day, he was eventually able to do it without any help.

Khiree made his way towards the deep end on his fourth lesson.

On their fifth and sixth lesson, Khiree spent the entire time on the deep end. Rudnitsky taught him how to tread water. It took some time but he was eventually able to tread water for a few seconds.

Click here for more information on swimming lessons at the Freedom Valley YMCA.

Click here for more information about the USA Swimming Foundation's Make A Splash initiative.