Three-time Olympic gold medalist Rowdy Gaines says one of the most important things you can do to protect your children this summer is to make sure they can swim.

Gaines, who is vice president of development for the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance in Alexandria, Va., says that message is important even in New Hampshire where the swimming season is short.

Officials in the city of Portsmouth are planning to open the Peirce Island Outdoor Pool for the summer season on June 21. There are also public pools in Dover and Rochester.

It is estimated that 70 percent of Americans plan to swim in a pool this summer, up from 52 percent last year when COVID-19 kept people away from them for health safety reasons, according to a press release from the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance.

City of Portsmouth

Straight Talk From Gaines

Gaines competed in the 1984 summer games in Los Angeles, Calif., and won a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle. He also won two gold medals for relays, swimming the anchor legs for the U.S. team in the 4 x 100-meter freestyle relay and the 4 x 100-meter medley relay.

"It was an exciting time for our country and certainly for the sport of swimming," Gaines said during a recent interview.

Gaines said there are a number of places where people swim in New Hampshire that do not include public pools, including lakes, rivers and backyard pools.

"And unfortunately, drowning is sort of an epidemic in our country. It is the second-leading cause of death in children five to 14, and number one cause of death, unintentional death, in children ages four and younger," Gaines said.

Gaines likes to makes parents aware of these facts, especially now because after the pandemic, people will want to return to their normal summertime activities.

"I beg parents, please, please, please, never take your eye off your child when they are around water. That is the simplest way I can put it, that, and put them in swim lessons," Gaines said.

Private and semi-private lessons are available at the Dover Indoor Pool, according to their website.

Contact Managing News Editor Kimberley Haas at Kimberley.Haas@townsquaremedia.com.

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