It was spring break, and the family was excited for a little Florida sun, family time, boating, beach and pool.
When we arrived at grandma and grandpa’s house, we walked to the backyard, where my 4-year-old immediately kicked off his flip-flops and began scaling one of the palm trees. While we all stared in awe at his ascent, what we didn’t realize was that our 2-year-old, who had just been standing right next to me, had stealthily slipped away and into the pool.
The next thing I knew, my brother was yelling “Wyatt!” and running toward the pool. I spun around to see my baby bobbing, with only his eyes above the water, staring at me in terror. There was no splashing or thrashing, no screaming or coughing — nothing. Just silence. And I was frozen in fear.
Did you know 23% of child drownings happen during a family gathering near a pool? We did not.
Fast forward two months, and we were at my friend’s house for a playdate swim. Floaties on, safety first, no problem. Then, it was time for lunch — pizza by the pool. Surely, it would be OK to take his floaties off for just a minute while he ate. I got Wyatt situated with a slice and turned my back to get his brother and sister their plates.
The next thing I heard was that all-too-familiar shriek, “Wyatt!” Standing not two feet away, I spun around to see Wyatt, silently bobbing just off the steps of the pool. Again, he had somehow gone undetected without a sound, a splash, not a drop of water misplaced. And, again, I froze in fear.
The last scare was on closing day at the local pool, where a floaty-less Wyatt casually walked down a gradient bottom pool until his face was underwater. This time, it was me who saw it happen and yelled to my husband from across the pool, “Wyatt!” He pulled him out without a splash or cough.
My kids love the water, to swim, and splash and play. We had been diligent about getting them comfortable around water — maybe too comfortable. They had even had a few private lessons, and by many accounts, were all “really strong swimmers.” But while we were busy building their love for the water, what we had neglected was the need for water safety; and frankly, there’s a big difference between the two mentalities.
Related: The Benefits of Year-Round Swimming
When the winter rolled around and a friend told me about her early childhood swim school, I knew we had to go. Since February, we’ve been practicing once a week during our 30-minute class at Aqua-Tots. I am so impressed with each of the kids’ drastic improvements already. Now, rather than frantic paddles to stay afloat, Wyatt is able to efficiently put strokes together, to not only stay afloat, but calmly make his way back to the wall. What once felt like an overwhelming task — hauling three kids to swim lessons by myself — in reality, couldn’t be easier. From the office staff to the swim instructors, and even the post-swim amenities, Aqua-Tots has completely transformed my mindset on swim safety and made it a manageable and exciting part of our routine. Not to mention that learning to swim can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% for 1 to 4 year olds who take formal swim lessons.
May is National Drowning Prevention Awareness Month, and those summer pool days are right around the corner.
Don’t leave swim safety to chance. Call Aqua-Tots to schedule a free assessment and have a trained professional assess your child’s preparedness for water safety. From one parent to another, I implore you, please, take my family’s near-tragic experiences and learn water safety before it’s too late.
Aqua-Tots is temporarily closed, but will reopen as soon as they are able.
Aqua-Tots North Indianapolis is located on E. 96th Street, between Allisonville Road and Keystone Parkway. Your child’s first in-water evaluation is FREE. In the meantime, Aqua-Tots is offering kids activity resources and continued water safety education through their Facebook and Instagram pages. Follow Aqua-Tots on Facebook and Instagram.