Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - The way movies portray a drowning with screaming, flailing, and splashing is giving parents the wrong idea according to area lifeguards.
Alena Anthony, the Aquatics and Sports Coordinator for the YMCA, says parents should be just as suspicious when a swimmer isn't making any noise.
"People think that it is going to be loud and noisy and that you are going to see it right away and it's the exact opposite of that," Anthony explains. “The first thing that they are trying to do is breathe. So, the last thing on their mind is to speak and get help. They are just simply trying to survive.”
Anthony explains, "You'll see arms extended, you'll see head-bobbing, a head tilt, that glassy distressed look in their eye. That's when you know that they are silently going to slip under within the 60 second time period.”
“It is definitely a silent killer,” Anthony says.
YMCA Lifeguard Tom Callaghan says it's not unusual for people nearby to overlook a drowning if they don't recognize the real signs.
"It gets very very busy and very very crowded. You have to scan constantly and you are going to miss that one child who is just silently out there, going under, if you're not diligent," says Callaghan.
He tells parents to get kids used to swimming at a young age, so they're better equipped to cope with rough waves.
"We don't save people. We prevent drownings. So, before anybody gets here, I make sure they take the swim test,” says Callaghan.
If you are interested in taking swimming lessons, the YMCA offers 10-week courses available for children and adults throughout the year and is free with a YMCA membership.