Washington Co. & Mon Valley Police Beat

CANONSBURG – The pleas of “Mommy, I need my floaties!” were ignored by aquatic safety instructors as a group of about 30 kids jumped in to take part in Friday’s worldwide swim lesson.

The first lesson kicked off in Abu Dhabi and by the time local kids jumped in the Town Park pool at 5 p.m., international organizers estimated roughly 45,000 kids were participating in the “World’s Largest Swimming Lesson.” Last year, there were 38,000 swimmers, and since the WLSL organization started the event in 2010, there have been 155,000 children and adults who’ve started getting their water legs.

“She was not a water baby,” Shannin Pettigrew, of Canonsburg, said about her 9-year-old, Veah.

“She had some swim lessons when she was younger, but she didn’t even want to get her hair wet. This is her second year actually swimming, and this is her first official lesson,” Pettigrew said.

Sticking to the shallows, the young gymnast said she is comfortable in 5 feet or less of water, but is looking to go into the deep end by summer’s end. Then, she can put those beam skills to use and nimbly bound and flip into the water from a diving board.

Last year, swimmers from 22 countries got their feet wet with a first swimming lesson. Amid the throwing of foam pool noodles and joking from lifeguards, the message has always been the same: formal swimming lessons reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent for young children.

“Being able to relax in the water is the imperative lesson in any swim lesson, because if you panic you lose energy,” said Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center aquatics safety instructor, Catie Stache, who was coordinating lessons there and at Town Park.

“So laying on your back and floating, and being able to breathe without actively swimming is the biggest lesson young swimmers should learn,” Stache said, “because saving energy, being able to breathe and not getting panicked is the biggest thing to remember.”

Other tips Stache offered including always scoping out what a swimmer is jumping into, whether it’s a pool, river or lake; to make sure the water is deep enough and that a swimmer won’t jump onto a submerged object. Stache recommended to parents they have kids participate in frequent swim lessons scheduled closely together to build muscle memory and good practice.

Greene Co. Police Beat


Theft: Lucas Spencer Huff, 18, of 132 Roberts Run Road, Mt. Morris, was charged by Cumberland Township Police with theft from a vehicle, receiving stolen property and loitering at night following an incident that happened early Wednesday morning. Police said Huff allegedly broke into several cars and stole items out of them including a wallet with change. Police recovered several cellphones, iPhones, CDs, a male camouflage wedding band and phone chargers, all thefts from vehicles, believed to be parked on Brownsferry Road, Old Waynesburg Road, Maple Street and in Cumberland Village. Anyone who can confirm the items belong to them is asked to call the police station at 724-966-8296.

Motorcycle crash: State police are asking for help in identifying the driver in a hit-and-run crash near Mt. Morris that severely injured a motorcyclist on Bald Hill Road around 5 p.m. Saturday. Michael Smith, 31, was hospitalized. Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is asked to call Trooper Lucas Borkowski at 724-627-6151.