Huxley’s grandfather takes him to swimming lessons every week, and between grand-dad and mom, Huxley goes to a pool about once a month outside of “class.” This has been going on for about two years, and Huxley is about two years old. I estimate that this particular toddler has been in the pool for an extended period well over 100 times, and probably more times than I’ve been in a pool over my entire life.
He can do something like 11 bananas. If you know what that means, then, well, you know what I mean. Otherwise don’t worry about it.
By the way, did you know that toddlers naturally sink? So much for the Aquatic Ape Theory!
When Huxley gets older he’ll be a great swimmer, and that will keep him relatively safe at the lake, on boats, etc. But safe isn’t perfectly safe, and even experienced swimmers have to watch out for themselves and for each other. And, this is the time of year to remind everyone what drowning looks like.
Drowning, it turns out, does not look like drowning. It often looks like nothing at all. From your point of view at the pool side, in the cabana, at the beach, or on the boat, drowning simply looks like this: The person simply isn’t there any more because they quietly slipped to the bottom of the water after quietly struggling mostly out of your sight.
The new captain jumped from the deck, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim as he headed straight for the couple swimming between their anchored sportfisher and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other and she had screamed but now they were just standing, neck-deep on the sand bar. “We’re fine, what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. “We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard. “Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not ten feet away, their nine-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears, “Daddy!”
How did this captain know – from fifty feet away – what the father couldn’t recognize from just ten?…
Drowning is the second most common cause of accidental death among children. Between 500 and 1000 Americans under the age of 15 will drown this year, about half of them within 25 feet of an adult who does not see it happening, and in about one in ten cases the parent will be watching as it happens, watching the kid drown, not realizing what they are seeing.
Thank you for reading this seasonal, timely public service announcement. Coming soon: Brown Recluse Spider Warnings!