09/10/2012 12:59 EDT | Updated 11/10/2012 05:12 EST

Quebec counts 62 drownings this season

Drownings in Quebec seem to have plummeted after a spike early this summer, according to water safety officials.

Since the spring, 62 people have died in pools and waterways — 11 fewer cases than at this time last year.

Since 2000, an average of 79 people drown in the province every year.

The spike in drownings prompted Jean Charest's government to announce it would implement a "swim to survive" program piloted in several schools two years ago.

The program would target children in Grade 3 and promote basic swimming skills to survive a fall in deep water. It includes three one-hour lessons in which children learn how to roll into the water, tread water for 60 seconds and swim for 50 metres.

In July, two-year-old Marylou Dufault drowned in her family's backyard pool. Her mother urged other parents to secure swimming areas and keep a close eye on children while they swim.

Reynald Hawkins with the Quebec Lifesaving Society said increased information put out by water safety officials could have convinced people to be more careful.

Maria Pantazopoulos, 30, of Laval, tragically died while posing for pictures in her wedding dress by the Ouareau River, about 75 kilometres north of Montreal.

According to authorities, she was standing in 15 to 30 centimetres of water and her dress became too heavy from soaking water.

The photographer and his assistant were unable to lift her out. Pantazopoulos was swept away by harsh currents and taken under water.

A 53-year-old man also drowned on Montreal's north shore this weekend after falling off a wharf.