Water Fitness and Safety as Drowning Cases Rise


Emma Quintal

Anthony Cunningham teaches his advances fitness class.

Since the beginning of the summer, Macon has had two drownings on top of others throughout the state. Disabled Navy Veteran and Legends Fitness instructor Anthony Cunningham said that adults tend to be overconfident when it comes to the water, which can eventually be their downfall.

While he is known for “bringing the gym to the pool” and helping people work through injuries, he also works on water safety. Cunningham said that having a military background, “really helps you prepare for what may happen.”

Most grownups who get in trouble in the water will immediately go into panic mode, he said. 

“Panic throws options out of the window, so learning basic survival in the water, how to float, how to relax, how to become one with the water… really does help you or does help you provide time and opportunity to help yourself while waiting on someone else to help you,” Cunningham said.

The American Red Cross teaches a water safety method, “Reach or Go, Don’t Throw.” This means that in the event of a drowning, one should reach out or throw something to the victim, instead of swimming out to the victim, which could potentially create another scenario for a drowning.

According to the Red Cross, ten people die each day from unintentional drowning. It has also been found that when parents have no or low swimming ability, their children are unlikely to have proficient swimming skills.

The Red Cross also offers swimming classes for the whole family, in order to teach everyone skills for swim safety and confidence.

On top of teaching swim safety, Cunningham mainly teaches his clients how to use the pool as a form of exercise, and also teaches injury rehabilitation and injury prevention.

Cunningham explained that one of his clients has multiple sclerosis, a disease in which the immune system eats away the protective covering of nerves, according to Mayo Clinic. He said that “before Covid, she can’t lift her legs, she can’t move her arms, but once you get in the pool, she’s confident.”

Cunningham wants people to know that the pool is a place for people of any age or ability to come and exercise or recover from injury. He knows that everyone has something that attempts to hold them back, and he will push you to overcome those obstacles, to get people free enough to go farther than  they ever expected.