While on vacation in October 2012, I took my kids, then 7, 5, and 3 months, swimming in our hotel pool. In a moment, that decision changed our lives forever. I found my cautious, obedient, swim-class-loving 7-year-old son Clark at the bottom of the pool. Thanks to quick responses from a 17-year-old boy who pulled Clark from the water and a family friend who performed CPR, Clark was resuscitated and rushed to the local children’s hospital where he was admitted to PICU. Nothing short of a miracle, he made a full recovery, but the emotional recovery, for all of us, was a much longer and more difficult road.
While we were in the hospital, a very wise social worker told us that we absolutely had to get Clark back into the water, not just because swimming is an essential life skill, but also so it wouldn’t become a monster that would haunt him for the rest of his life. At first, I couldn’t even fathom ever getting any of my kids into a swimming pool again, but then I realized that she was right. We did session after session of private swim lessons where Clark not only regained his confidence in the water but began to thrive in ways he never had before.
In the aftermath of his accident, I discovered that our story had many similarities to the story of another family who lost a son to drowning in a hotel pool in the same area just days before. The mom and I became dear friends, and, through her, I connected with other families who had lost children to drowning. Together, we decided to promote drowning awareness and to share how to help kids (and parents) feel empowered in the water. We collaborated with a very experienced swim teacher and water safety instructor to create a single sheet highlighting what we felt was the most essential water safety information.
To read more about Kate’s family’s near-drowning experience, click here.
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