Swim instructor warns parents against blue bathing suits for kids

Nikki Scarnati said she hopes her advice can help prevent drowning deaths.

ByYi-Jin Yu ABCNews logo
Thursday, April 20, 2023
Swim instructor warns parents against blue swimsuits for kids
Nikki Scarnati, a mom of two and swim instructor in Florida, took to social media to call attention to the dangers of blue swimsuits, as well as how she keeps kids safe in the pool.

With summer and swim season just months away, one mom is warning other parents not to buy blue swimsuits for their kids.

Nikki Scarnati, a mom of two and swim instructor in Spring Hill, Florida, shared in a recent video post on her TikTok page why she doesn't recommend them.

"This is not a regular bathing suit my daughter wears on a regular basis. I bought it on clearance specifically for this example for parents who wanted to learn," the 32-year-old says in the video, turning the camera on her 2-year-old daughter Claire, who is seen treading water in a pool while wearing a light blue swimsuit.

"Look how difficult it is to see her under the water -- and this is in calm water," Scarnati continued. "This is not with a whole bunch of other kids playing, splashing around and having a good time. Even look in the sunlight, look how difficult it is to see her with that bathing suit on 'cause it's the same color as our environment. So, do not buy a blue bathing suit guys."

Scarnati, a Florida native who specializes in teaching children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years old, said this simple piece of advice was one she learned from her family growing up.

"My mom had three kids so she wanted us to be easiest to spot because we were always in different places at one time. But as I've gotten into the teaching role and working with students, I discovered it wasn't as widely known as I thought it was," Scarnati explained to "Good Morning America."

"In the industry, it's kind of widely known that blue bathing suits are problematic in pools and open water. So it was just one of the many things that I could help educate parents on, that would be applicable to really everyone," she said.

Scarnati said she has noticed blue children's swimsuits are widely available and very easy to find.

"Blues are very common in bathing suit color and I think that [fuels] the frustration for a lot of professionals that work with children, especially in a pool setting," Scarnati said.

Before jumping into that cool pool on a hot summer day, parents are urged to take steps to keep their kids safe.

Water safety tips for parents

Adam Katchmarchi, executive director of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and an assistant professor in sport management at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, Pennsylvania, agreed that avoiding blue swimsuits is one way to prevent water dangers like drowning.

"After someone does experience a drowning incident, they can submerge below the water and whether that's in a pool or in a natural body of water, that can really distort what we're able to see surface level, to even see that there may be a situation we need to respond to," Katchmarchi told "GMA." "So wearing bright colors, no matter what the age, is really a good safety recommendation."

The National Drowning Prevention Alliance recommends parents practice five layers of protection to keep kids safe in the water. Those five layers are:

1. Barriers and alarms, like fencing around pools and alarms on doors and windows that open to the pool so an adult is alerted when they're opened.

2. Supervision that is "close, constant and capable" is critical for water safety, according to the Alliance.

3. Water competency, meaning that both adults and children should know how to swim. The Alliance recommends talking to your child's pediatrician about when to start water safety or swimming lessons.

4. Life jackets are needed whenever "on or around open and natural bodies of water and when boating," according to the Alliance.

5. Emergency preparation includes keeping a phone poolside to be able to quickly call 911 and learning and practicing how to perform CPR, according to the Alliance.

Katchmarchi noted that when it comes to supervision, bright bathing suits make a difference.

"Part of the supervision element is ... making sure that you can actively supervise your child anytime they're around or in the water," he said. "And one of those ways is to make sure that they have a bright colored swimsuit."

Both Scarnati and Katchmarchi recommend parents seek out neon-colored swimsuits, such as neon yellow and orange that "are going to stand out in the environment."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is a leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4.

Scarnati said she hopes her TikTok post, which has so far racked up more than 6 million views and nearly half a million likes, can prevent future drowning deaths.

"At the end of the day, drowning is the No. 1 cause of death in children under 4 and the second in children 5 to 12, so if I can give as many tips as possible to parents to help them make better decisions ... just to help drowning statistics lower a little bit, then I've done my job," she said.