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Swim Lessons Need to Change: A Mother's Testimonial.

Updated: Jan 8, 2019

Swim lessons. You sign your child up for swim lessons early to teach them water safety. You think you are doing the right thing to keep them safe, to prevent them from drowning. A mother in Texas shares her story. They had a pool installed in their backyard and wanted to keep their 2 year old safe. Here is her story:

"Yes, I was that person. I thought 'that won’t happen to my child'. I am going to sign him up for swim lessons early so he can learn water safety and the dangers that come with water. I thought I was taking the right step to make sure my child was safe around the water.

When my husband and I planned on putting a pool in our backyard, we knew we had to put our two-year-old in swim lessons to keep him safe. We looked at many places online and even possibly doing 1:1 lessons in our own pool. However, my friend had been taking their daughter to a facility and doing swim lessons there for over a year, so we felt good about taking him to the same place. We ended up doing a trial run with an instructor and it went well; our son didn’t cry, he didn’t really do much in the water at that time, but he let the instructor coach him. We signed him up for a weekly 30-minute-long semi-private class. I introduced myself to his instructor before his first swim class, so she would know who I was if she had any problems or needed me.

I thought the instructor had the proper training and educational background to be able teach and take care of young children in a swim class. His class was a 1:2 ratio. When the child wasn’t swimming, they would take turns sitting on the ledge to wait their turn for the next skill with the instructor. I was frightened about that part of the lesson since the instructor was focused on working with the other child. During the lesson, parents sat in a viewing room separated by glass on the other side of the pool. As I would sit and watch him from the viewing glass, I would always fear him trying to swim and no one catching him if he fell in.

During my child’s swim class, there were several other classes going on in the same pool. A lifeguard was posted outside the pool and each class had a teacher. The classes ranged from beginners to more advance swimmers.

My son seemed to like his swim class. He never had a problem with crying or not wanting to go. However, on his third class I decided to take his Mimi with us to see how great he was doing and that day he wasn’t in the mood to swim. He fussed and didn’t want to enter the pool deck room where the children wait to start. I told him multiple times 'it will be okay', and I would be watching him. He sat down on the pool ledge and started crying. I thought 'oh he would get over it' because I have seen many kids do this. I was excited to have my mother see him swim today and was disappointed he was so fussy. I thought to myself that maybe he was crying because he could see us in the window. Then, the instructor gave me a look like 'Are you going to get out of his sight so he stops?' There was a sign in the viewing room that said to remove yourself if your child is fussing, so my mother and I decided to hide our faces to see if that would help.

While we waited, a different instructor went and spoke with my son. My son took a liking to him, listened, and he stopped crying. Even though he still wasn’t smiling (our son always smiles) he went on with the lesson that day.

About the last five minutes of class, the instructor started goofing off with another instructor, spraying each other with squirt guns. I watched as my son sat on the ledge with the other child. I noticed the instructors were not paying attention to the children around. I watched my son reach for a squirt gun and saw him drop straight down. As I stood in a packed room full of mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, etc. I noticed that no one noticed he sunk into the water. It was like he wasn’t even there! My son was only two feet away from the instructor, but he was faced the opposite way, still playing around.

My heart sank. My immediate instinct took over and all I could think was to pound on the glass window to get the instructor’s attention. It had already been two seconds that he was underwater. Time was ticking and I was too far away to save my baby. I jumped over people in the viewing room and pounded on the window, probably looking like a crazy lady, but that was my son in there, that was my baby. My mom and I both screamed and pounded on the window. This got their attention and the instructor looked up and saw me. Then she saw my son under the water and pulled him out. It had been at least 10 seconds. I ran into the pool area with my mom. I told the instructor “give me my son”, that’s all I could say as I tried to keep my calm for my child who just went through this a traumatic event. I grabbed my son from the instructor and all I remember was seeing my son’s pale, wet face, with a blank stare. He was breathing. Thank God he was breathing!

Thoughts raced through my mind. How could this happen? How come no one saw my son? What was the lifeguard doing? What is wrong with this instructor? How angry I felt inside! My heart was pounding! As I left the pool deck area carrying my little guy, squeezing him tight, another instructor came up and asked what happened. All I could say was, 'I am done, we are done. How could you not see what happened and what was going on in there?'

I kept calm, trying to pull myself together emotionally, while holding my child in my arms thinking, 'what would have happened if I hadn’t been watching every second of him during his lesson?' Would my son still be here with me today? That thought made me so angry and sad inside. I left that facility knowing I would never be back, and I would never recommend anyone to be involved in lessons there again.

I thank God every day I never took my eyes off my son. When you are a first-time parent, you think you are doing the right thing for your children, but you have no clue until you see first hand how a good situation can go bad in a second. I never thought taking my son to a swim class to learn water safety would result in him possibly drowning. Who would think that? The ten seconds that my son was under water were the longest ten seconds of my life. I never want anyone to go through what I did and my story doesn’t even compare to what could have happened. Seconds may not seem like anything, but as each second goes by, your chance at saving their life will decrease. Please, watch your children around the water and choose a swimming program that will keep them safe."

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