When it comes to water safety, it pays to buddy up! The sad fact is that most drowning deaths occur when the swimmer is alone. Drowning can happen quickly and quietly. The buddy system is one of the smartest ways a swimmer can take control of their own safety.

What is the Buddy System?

First, let’s cover the basics. In truth, the buddy system is fairly simple. It’s just what it sounds like. Swimmers, particularly children, should not swim alone. Even if you have a basic knowledge of how to prevent yourself from drowning, that cannot keep you totally safe. Taking a dip with another swimmer of similar swimming ability can greatly increase your safety.

Often, the buddy system is used for large gatherings of children. For example, a summer camp may use this method to provide an extra set of eyes on the swimming kiddies. As a bonus, it adds an extra layer of safety protection. Members of a buddy group are each responsible for both their own safety and the safety of their partner.

Together, buddies can help keep each other in the following ways:

  • Buddies can help to keep each other safe from wandering off alone or otherwise becoming separated from the larger group.
  • If one member of a pair is having trouble, their buddy can quickly alert the lifeguard to the potential danger.
  • If one buddy takes a break or leaves the water, even if it is just to use the bathroom, their buddy should go with them. This will help to prevent anyone from getting lost or finding themselves in trouble. (This part works in and out of the water!)

Check In!

Now, obviously it is important to only swim in designated areas that are protected by a lifeguard. That said, the buddy system can make things safer all around.

gold whistle

The most efficient way to use the buddy system is to have periodic, scheduled “buddy checks.” These checks should happen at pre-determined intervals. Before anyone gets in the pool, all buddy groups should understand that there will be a check-in once every 10 minutes or so. Each pair will be required to announce their location and the location of their buddy. This places a responsibility upon both members of the group. This is a great incentive for each kid to stay in close proximity of their partner and to look out for each other.

These checks are typically quick. In most cases, this is dealt with by having the children all move to the shallow end of the pool. Each pair will raise their hands when their name is called. The little ones can get right back to splashing around in the water once every single pair is accounted for.

When combined with active supervision and swimming lessons, the buddy system is a powerful way to help prevent kids from danger.  If you’re interested in learning more, please explore the rest of this safety blog. It’s packed with useful tips and tricks for helping to keep kids safe.