All the Things I Wish I’d Said (About Water Safety)

This is the second in a series of posts about water safety. To read the post I wrote right after the accident, click here. To learn more about water safety, check out this post.

You know how sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you’re kind of blindsided, where you see something or you hear something and you don’t know what to say or do in the moment? And then afterwards, you think of all the things you wish you said?

That happens to me a lot. I’m not confrontational. I’m a people pleaser. I don’t want people to be unhappy or uncomfortable and have me be at the root of it all. I once joked that if my life were a Sara Bareilles song, it would be, “Say what you want to say…in an email…and then live in panic while you wait for them to respond and wish that you never said anything…” If I hate my meal at a restaurant, I will probably not say anything. If you hurt my feelings, I probably won’t tell you. I’m a terrible delegator because I don’t want to ask anyone to do a job I would hate to do. I would pretty much make the worst boss ever.

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I’ve thought for a long time, a long, long time about writing this. I’ve put it off because it gives me anxiety, because I don’t feel like I’m ready, and then I write a Scoop post about fonts or something. But it keeps kind of resurfacing in my brain, consuming my thoughts, until I do something about it. So I’m doing something about it. And, to be honest, I feel a tiny bit sick to my stomach about it.

You know how everybody has their thing? You’ve got your car seat safety friends and you’ve got your Internet safety friends and you’ve got your bike helmet friends and you’ve got your screentime-is-evil friends, and sometimes you have all of them rolled into one person. Well, guys, I’m your water safety friend.

I shared the story of my son’s near drowning in October of 2012 here. Even though I posted right after the accident, I don’t regret it. Sharing was therapeutic, and the many, many words of kindness, most of which I never responded to, mean the world to me. So if I never thanked you personally, I’m so sorry.

But I was in a very raw place. I couldn’t say things the way I think they need to be said because I couldn’t say those words.

Grief is a funny thing. Even though we didn’t lose him, we came awfully close and I went to a really dark place. I don’t think that made sense to most people, even myself, because he was okay. It was like it happened and then it was over, but it wasn’t really over, you know? I spent a lot of time on the internet googling drowning. What happens. How long does it take. I call it grief porn, because even though I knew it was something that was exploiting my emotions and probably not good for me, I felt drawn to experiencing and re-experiencing all those emotions until I was tapped out.

I became angry, not really at anyone or anything, just intensely, rage-fully angry. It was like that was the only emotion my mind could process, so I did it at full-throttle.

I stopped feeling anything (besides anger) for a good year. In a desperate attempt to feel something, I watched Toy Story 3, which sent me over the edge for a good three weeks when it came out in theaters, and I left shrugging my shoulders.

I became convinced, completely neurotic, that something bad was going to happen, particularly to my youngest. Every time I put him down for a nap or left him with a babysitter, every time we got in the car, I thought that was it. I became totally and completely (and irrationally) paralyzed with fear. I seriously bathed him in a baby bather until he was 9 months old and practically walking out of it.

Finally realizing I needed help, I went to a counselor, who diagnosed me with PTSD. She was very nice and I liked her a lot, but then Clark started having panic attacks (everyone who told me that it would be way harder on me and that he would bounce right back have never met the most intense child on Earth) and I felt like I needed to focus on him. Whether or not that was the right decision, I’m not sure (actually, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the right decision, but I felt like I only had so much time and so many emotional resources), but we focused on getting him through that rough patch.

So now? We’re mostly good. We all have our moments, and sometimes something as simple as a smell or a song can trigger those overwhelming feelings of anxiety. But we’re good. A very wise social worker in the hospital told us that he absolutely had to get back in the water, not just because it’s a crucial life skill but because if we didn’t, it would be this monster that would haunt him for the rest of his life.

So he’s taken several rounds of swimming lessons and it’s become something that he loves. Usually.

So why am I telling you guys all of this? For a couple of reasons. I want people to know that even though he’s okay, it didn’t come without incredible emotional implications like guilt, fear, anxiety, anger, and isolation. I want people to know that things could have very easily gone in another direction, that we were exceptionally blessed/lucky/whatever, and that most people who come that close don’t make it, at least not without devastating side effects. I want to talk about what it was like, what it was really like, and I want to say all those things I wish I would have said, in hopes that we can save another family from an experience like ours.

I think most people have seen the “Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning” article. I shared it when I shared Clark’s story before. If you haven’t read it, you really should. If you have read it, it’s worth looking over again.

But.

What about afterwards? Because just as easily, you could say “a drowning rescue doesn’t look like a drowning rescue.” Sara and I have both said that if more people had seen what it is actually like, they would be infinitely more cautious with their kids around water.

If you guys watch Mad Men, you might remember a scene in the most recent season where Don is at a party and is partaking of late-1960’s-ish substances that he shouldn’t be. In a hallucination, he walks up to the side of the pool and sees himself floating face-down with his arms extended. Then someone jumps in and rescues him and pulls him out of the water and although things clearly are not good, his coloring is Jon Hamm-ish beautiful and they lay him at the side of the pool and smack him a few times and he coughs up some water and then puts on a robe and goes and sits in a chair.

That’s not how it happens.

When my daughter told me that Clark was under the water, I asked her if he was playing or if he was in trouble and she told me she thought he was in trouble. When we turned around, he was on the floor of the pool, face-down, with his arms extended, just like you see in pictures. It still haunts me.

At the side of the pool, Clark was purple, from his nose all the way down through his chest. Once Sara’s husband resuscitated him, he didn’t just expel pool water. There were a lot of hysterical, extreme emotions, not just from us, but from many in the pool area, whether or not they knew us. It was ugly, it was intense and terrifying and messy and nothing like TV or movies.

  • Drowning is the #1 killer for kids between 1-4, #2 behind car accidents for kids between 5-9, and #3 behind car accidents and suicide (!) for kids between 10-14.
  • Drowning is silent and generally involves very little motion because the body is thrown into survival mode. No yelling or splashing or thrashing.
  • Slipping under the water can happen in just a few seconds. The body loses consciousness without oxygen in 1-2 minutes, sometimes sooner depending on how hard the person was exerting themselves.
  • Small children can drown in an inch of water.
  • Even kids who have been good swimmers in controlled environments (like Clark) can panic when things suddenly don’t go as planned.

When Clark slipped under the water, I was looking up directions on a map on my phone. I got sidetracked by a funny text. Wanna know how long that took me? I timed myself. About a minute. So I timed myself doing other stuff. Going to the bathroom? 3 minutes. Making my bed? 3 minutes. Unloading the dishwasher? 7 minutes. Watching a kid swim across the pool and back? 2 minutes. Reading and answering a simple email? 4 minutes. Talking to my sister on the phone? 12 minutes. Comforting my daughter who got confused about sleepover dates? 5 minutes. Then try holding your breath and you’ll see how desperately quick that time goes by.

I have a dear friend who lost her son to drowning and she compares kids and water to kids and heavy equipment like chainsaws–you would never, ever take your eyes off your kids around stuff like that, and you never can with water.

Last summer, on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, I saw all sorts of stuff pop up about pools and lakes and water and I wished I’d had the guts at the time to say something, but I didn’t. Not to make anyone feel bad; I truly don’t want anyone to feel bad or like I’m judging them because I’m not; I just want people to think, really think, about how dangerous the water can be (along with being fun and necessary, which is part of why drowning is such a prevalent problem). If our experience can prevent this from happening again even once, I’ll take it.

  • I wish I’d said that arm floaties, noodles, air rafts, and anything other than an actual US Coast Guard-approved life jacket are not safe and create a false sense of security. Unless kids are great swimmers and are just using them for fun, these things shouldn’t be used.
  • I wish, when people said they sent their younger kids to the pool with their 12-year-old that they would realize that a 12-year-old isn’t physically or emotionally capable of caring for many small children near the water.
  • I wish I had said that lifeguards are there to administer emergency assistance and not to babysit.
  • I cringe when I see pictures of adorable summer toes and a great summer book and a refreshing summer drink while kids play in the pool without their parents.
  • I cringe when people talk about singlehandedly bringing their 5 kids and someone else’s brood to the pool by themselves. You’ve got two eyes that point in the same direction and two arms; until some of those kids are old enough to pass a life-saving course, there are not nearly enough people there.
  • I am totally uncomfortable with summer day camps for younger kids that involve swimming as an activity (I’m not talking about swimming camps where kids are learning swimming skills, but just where they go play in the pool. There was a drowning like this in my area a few years back with a teenager who was not a strong swimmer.)
  • If I could go back and tell my pre-near-drowning self something, it would be to ask what the heck I was doing holding a three-month-old baby with my feet in the water while my kids swam in the pool. What would I have done if no one else had been there? My sheer presence would not have saved anyone. Where would I have put the baby? What would I have actually done?
  • I’m not afraid to say that unless it was a one-on-one swimming lesson, I am not at a point where I am comfortable with any of my kids being in the water without me being right there.

I ask that you decide to comment to keep things nice. I’m not writing this from a mean or judgy place, I’m writing it from the most tender recesses of my heart. Likewise, if you have something mean to say to me about our experience, even though it’s been a year and a half, it will still hurt and I will still probably delete it, not to be an evil censoring overlord or to have you only say nice things to me to make me feel better about myself but just, well, because.

But first and foremost, as we get closer to summer, as you guys start your family vacations and beach trips and lake trips and pool parties, I hope you guys will take this to heart. I hope you’ll stand up and be vocal when you see people being unsafe near water. I hope you’ll take charge and designate someone to watch the pool at a party if it hasn’t been done. I hope you’ll get in the water with your kids, regardless about how you feel about yourself in a bathing suit or how tired you are. If you can’t give 100% for whatever reason, save the pool for another day. I hope you’ll teach your kids these things so when you aren’t there, they’ll know, too.

I love you guys. I really do. I feel like so many of you are my friends, so thank you for all your continued love and support. Here’s to a fun, happy, and safe spring and summer!

 

252 comments

  1. Kate,

    Thank you for this. It is really important. As a young adult I did some lifeguarding at my high school pool. Over the course of my lifeguarding, I pulled about 9 kids out of the water. Guess where their parents were? Most were within arms-reach, and had no idea their child was drowning right next to them. OF COURSE the parents felt horrible when they realized what a near miss their child had had, and so close. Years have passed, and as a mother of a largish family, and not the life-guard, I can candidly admit it is hard to keep my eyes on my entire brood, all at once. It’s just so easy to be distracted, even though I know better, and have been in that life-guard chair. Your story is so important to help emphasize the degree of vigilance needed. I’m so happy for you that your story has a happy ending.

  2. Thank you for being such an advocate of water safety! So many people are blase about water safety or think their small children can be not watched as much because they have babies or toddlers and they think their somewhat older children are “fine” with less supervision. We need more people like you getting the message out! The same goes not just for pools but for bathtubs!

    There’s nothing “mean or judgy” about safety. Facts are facts and everyone can benefit from knowledge and reminders. I can’t imagine what your family has been through, but I admire you for making a difference spreading the word about the importance of water safety! THANK YOU!!!

  3. Thank you so much for the water safety reminder. I honestly think of you and what you went through with your precious son when I take my kids to the pool. Swimming season has already started here in Arizona and I appreciate this thoughtful post. The timing is perfect. Here’s to a happy and SAFE summer.

  4. Thank you for writing this. It’s a great reminder about water safety. I especially liked the information on how long tasks takes, it was quite surprising.

  5. I am a hardcore water safety advocate so I hear ya girl. Way to be brave and put this out there. Mad respect for you. I have one child and she’s one and until she’s a strong swimmer (she will be since I am and we will live near a pool her whole life, basically) I’ll be right there next to her. I have taught countless children and adults how to swim and I can honestly say it is a life skill, just like driving. Most adults I’ve taught to swim had a scary near drowning experience in their youth and they were just trying to tackle their gripping fear as an adult. I agree that it’s important your son try to face his fear now. When he’s 34 and not afraid to swim with his kids, he will thank you.

    A few more safety things:
    -someone can drown in even an inch of water. It doesn’t have to be deep to drown in it.
    -pool parties: hire a lifeguard for heaven’s sake! It’s worth the $30 to pay someone else to watch the pool because trust me, you won’t be looking at the pool while you’re hosting a party.
    -get your kids in swim lessons, even if you don’t live in CA or somewhere warm. It’s a life skill!
    Anyway, it’s just nice to have other water safety peeps out there! Stay tough girl!

  6. Thank you for your insight and thoughtful words. My kids drowning is one of my biggest fears (like reoccurring nightmare fear) and I have not had a near-drowning like you. I can only imagine what anxiety that experience caused.

    I appreciate the safety refresher and will be more diligent in protecting my children this summer!

  7. We are putting a pool in our backyard as we speak. We are a big swimming family and my kids are little fish, like not afraid of water at all-which is nerve wracking. I really had no idea that drowning could be silent like you described. I consider myself an overly cautious mother, and I did have a plan for pool safety in our backyard. But since reading several of your blog posts, I have been on a mission. I have installed locks on all our doors that go outside that the kids cannot reach. Both my smaller kids are signed up for swim lessons. One already can swim but she’s going to get a review. My older son and myself are signing up for CPR classes in May. These are just a few of the things on my list that I’m planning on doing. And you can bet that I will leave my book in the house. It scares me that I read at the pool last summer, even though I felt like I was safely watching them. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your post!!! I have a totally different outlook now. And your post could very well save a life this summer.

    1. It would be great if you can afford to put a cover on the pool that runs on tracks along the sides – it can support your kids’ weight if they go on top of it and there’s no way to drown if they accidentally get out in the backyard. Happy swimming!

  8. I live in the Phoenix area and we have a large number of child drownings every year in backyard pools. We built our current house when my oldest was just 1 yr old, he’s 10 now. All of our friends and family couldn’t believe we weren’t putting a pool in. Everyone thought we would regret it. But I have 3 kids and can send them out to the backyard and not have to worry about them climbing a pool fence and going swimming on their own. My parents live 20 minutes away and they have a pool. For that peace of mind, I will happily drive that 20 minutes to go swimming. Best decision I ever made. And you better believe that my husband and I watch our kids like hawks around my parents pool!

    Thank you for this post.

  9. You know Kate-I wish we lived closer to each other. We could be friends. Almost the same thing happened to me 9 months before you, and I think I went all kinds of crazy too. I was and still am more anxious about a lot of things–and strangely, almost all of them have nothing to do with swimming. Things that I was never anxious about before. I’ve learned to manage them pretty well, but I can never go back to how I was before, and I miss that. If you’ve never been through it, you would think that you would just feel grateful and blessed that you still have your child, but I struggled with depression for quite a while afterwards. So, to make a long story short, I echo what Kate says. Life is much easier if trauma never happens in the first place. And Kate–I feel ya!

  10. Thank you for this. I have a 2-1/2 year old daughter that I began having a false sense of security with in the bath while I “just ran to get something” for example. My husband voiced his concern about it and we discussed. For some reason I was still somewhat unconvinced that it wasn’t safe, probably because I had not done enough research. I see now how uneducated I was. Thank you.

  11. Thank you for your words. Great words as we head into summer. I have two small kids and plan on taking them to the pool. You words have reminded me to stay alert and be smart

  12. Thank you for posting this. We have a cabin on a lake, and we’ve been much too lax. I really, really appreciate your advice. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  13. Oh thank you for this. Last summer my daughter almost drowned. She was around nearly 20 adults and right next to my son and no one noticed. Thank God I looked over. I still have anxiety and want to throw up whenever I think of it. Water terrifies me. And while this post brought up all those feelings. I’m thankful for it. Because I pray more people are aware of just how easy it is, without having to go through it. And yes! To the bathtubs. Just as scary!!!

  14. Thank you so much for these posts! I’m sure it must be so difficult to share your experience, but I think you are doing a wonderful thing by reminding everyone about water safety. When I was in nursing school, I took care of a little boy who had nearly drowned in a small backyard pond, and I’ve never forgotten the experience and how heartbreaking it was for his family. My children don’t go in water unless Mom or Dad are going in with them, and bath times are 100% supervised. So many of my friends think, “Well, I did this as a kid and I’m fine, so why worry about it?” and it just makes my heart ache to think of the risks they are taking. Thanks again for sharing your message!

  15. I reciently have taken a deep breath and stopped micro parenting my oldest at the pool. I think I’ll go back to being the over protective parent. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sure it’s not easy to talk about.

  16. Thank you for this post. I have always been very cautious around water, especially with my kids. I have always been a little ashamed or our embarrassed at what people might think of my worry. But now I feel completely justified. Sorry you had to go through that, but thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  17. I’m so glad your son is okay, and that you’re doing okay now. This was a very brave post, and I thank you for writing it.

    When my son was born (after many years of hope and struggle), I knew that I had the potential to be the most neurotic mom ever. Instead, I looked at what things were the scariest/potentially most lethal, and focused most of my safety concerns on those: cars and water. I don’t think, with either of those, given how quickly things can go terribly wrong, that you can be too cautious.

    Your tips and warnings are good and sensible, and I have no doubt that your use of this space to share your experience and recommendations will help keep more kids safe. All the best to you and your family.

  18. Thank you for this reminder. My family used to get so irritated with my grandfather, who seemed obsessive when it came to swimming. He taught all of us at a very young age. More importantly, he was very very strict – NO SWIMMING unless he was there. No swimming at parties, beaches, pools unless he was there. AND he was THERE. He wasn’t doing anything but watching us. I wish I told him thank you then. But thank YOU for this reminder. My kids and I will spend a lot of time in the water this summer – and I will be 100% committed to their safety!

  19. Thank you for this. I am due with my first child in early September, and this is all hugely important stuff for me to read and remember. (And also it made me cry…yay hormones!)

  20. For real? I can’t believe that anybody could even find a mean thing to comment here. This is perfect and necessary. Thank you for the reminders. This will make me a better mom.

  21. So true what you said about the chainsaw. It definitely made me think! I watch my kids like a hawk when they’re using a sharp knife, and that wouldn’t even kill them if they were to “slip.” I will do better…thank you for sharing what you wish you had said. I’m glad to hear things are getting better, for you and for Clark (BTW, he is one handsome boy!).

  22. Great post, Kate. Alaska is a scary place for water because there aren’t many pools, so kids tend to not know how to swim, or to not practice once they know. But there are TONS of lakes, and I am always so worried that my kids are not water safe enough. Thank you for the timely reminder.

  23. I appreciate this so very much! It was brave of you to put yourself out there and I took these words to heart. We live in Southern California and spend May-September in the pool. I’m ashamed at how lax I have been in the past and this is just the kick in the pants I needed! I’m sorry you had to go through such a terrible time but your wisdom will now make a difference for so many. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  24. I get the fear. I had a near drowning experience at a church activity as a young girl, and thank goodness for a leader listening to the spirit or I would have been trapped and dead. This experience shapes the way I act and watch at any church/family/friends swimming event. I get such anxiety trying to count each head every ten seconds.

  25. Thank you for being brave and sharing this important reminder! I’m sharing it with my friends because we forget sometimes and get too relaxed!

  26. Our family -all three generations – will be going to the shore for our first family vacation which includes a 3-year-old and a very active 2-year-old. I love to read and had envisioned days full of good novels to read basking on the beach while mom and dad watched kids. Your story has made this grandmother vow to leave the books on the bedstand and just enjoy the sight of two of God’s most precious gifts. Thank you for this most important reminder! God bless you!

  27. Thank you for this post. I completely understand what you are saying about the feelings after the accident. Last year my son fell out of a third story window. By a miracle, he was perfectly fine. No broken bones, concussion, anything. For months I felt guilty because it had happened, scared to leave him out of my sight, and terrified with the what ifs. Like you, everyone kept saying that he was all right so I should be fine. You don’t go through something like that and come out the same. Thank you for letting me know that someone else had felt that way.

    And thank you for putting the information about drowning and water safety out there. We all need a reminder in this distracted world to focus on our kids and their safety.

  28. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m not in the age group where I am around kids and water. But I’m sure someday I will be a grandmother and I need to be reminded. My brother and his wife live in an area where water is part of daily life and I’m definitely going to send this post to him. I’m sure he thinks his kids are fine in the boat with their life preservers on but things can still happen.

  29. Thank you for sharing this. I’m going to make my husband read it because he’s more casual with the kids and the pool than I want him to be. And it was absolutely the right thing to get your child back into the water. When I was four I was pulled under by a wave at the beach. It happened with my grandparents who never told my mom so she didn’t know why I was suddenly terrified of baths. I’m in my thirties and I still have to fight not To panic when I get in a swimming pool. Maybe if there’d been a focus on getting me back in the water, I wouldn’t still struggle with it as an adult.

  30. Thank you for sharing your feelings. I spent my teenage years in Arizona. My mom would not buy a house with a pool for this very reason. My sister loves to take my little niece swimming. I will share this post with her.

  31. Thanks for being so honest. It’s so great you are dealing with this head on and haven’t gotten out of the water. My husband had a near drowning experience as a kid and never got back in the water. He doesn’t know how to swim and he’s scared to learn. I had one too but my mom got me back in the pool as soon as possible and in swimming lessons much longer than probably necessary. Thank you!

  32. Thank you for writing about this. I am not a mother (yet hopefully) but I think I can be too lax about water safety with myself and others. Thank you for helping make it serious again for me.

    1. Thank you also, bc your post made me realize that I am sometimes on the other end of the spectrum- teasing or being judgemental about others when it seems to me that they are “over-protective” around water. I now realize you really can’t be protective or safe enough.

  33. Oh Kate. My heart goes out to you. When my youngest (of 3) was a toddler, we had been on a weekend trip and the bag I carried all our random “stuff we might need” including first aid/medical supplies was sitting in our bedroom, just outside the master bathroom. It was a Monday morning, I had just gotten the older kids off to school, and because I was exhausted when we got home, I had not put away everything from our trip yet. In the time it took me to pee (with the door closed – a luxury and my downfall), my son unzipped the bag, grabbed a bottle of benadryl caplets – a 100 count bottle – opened it easily despite the child-proof cap, and ingested who knows how many – there were only a few left, and we didn’t take benadryl all that often, so it could have been a lot. Everything turned out fine in the end, but I was a blubbering mess who really could not offer much help at the ER, and it still haunts me how quickly our kids can get into serious trouble. With kids now aged 27, 22, and 16, I’m here to tell you, it’s still that way. I hope you and your family continue to heal. Forgiving yourself is SO hard to do.

  34. Thank you for writing this. It’s terrifying to think about but so important to be constantly vigilant about an often overlooked life-threatening danger. I, too, often leave my son in the bathtub while I go unload the dishwasher or something… maybe not anymore.

  35. Thank you for your post that will no doubt save someone’s child! I really love your site and your recipes, but this may be the most important post you will ever write! Thank you!

  36. Thank you for being so open about your anxiety. For different reasons, I, too, have been overly, crazily paranoid about something happening to my kids. It is an awful, awful feeling to be constantly overcome with fear and being unable to enjoy everyday life. Thank you for posting this. I’m glad I’m not alone.

  37. Thank you for such an insightful and thoughtful post. I can only imagine how difficult it was to express yourself. Thank you for being brave. My thoughts (and virtual hugs!) will still be with you as you continue to cope and grieve. I admire your strength. I worked at Primary Children’s for 6 years and my experiences with near drownings have never left me. Thank you for talking about a tough subject in such a helpful and realistic way. I feel so strongly about safety and vigilance around water. I’ll definitely be sharing this post! All the best to your sweet family!

  38. Thank you for publishing this post! I manage a pool that sees thousands of visitors daily. The rule we have the hardest time enforcing, is the 5 and under parents in the water rule. 90% of all our rescues are children under 6. Even trying to enforce this rule, I get yelled at, my boss gets complaint emails about how the pool is run, and my lifeguards are becoming afraid of the parents

  39. This is a fantastic post! It’s probably good that you waited to say the rest so you could really think about it. I feel the same about water, I love swimming and water sports, but going to the pool with three kids always feels a little daunting. Another thing to add is that if you have a pool in your backyard, it should absolutely have a fence around it; like the tall black metal fences with a locking gate. Thank you for being willing to share not only the incident but the aftermath, your lines about how the rescue really looked made me feel sick to my stomach.

  40. Great article! I thought everything you said was very well thought out and totally non-judgmental. I’m definitely a “safety” mom and receive a lot of criticism for ‘helicopter’ parenting. I had shared your other post and the drowning video with my husband’s siblings and their spouses because you just happened to post it right before we all went on a large vacation to Arizona. We had planned a lot of pool time and stayed by a large lake and all of our kids are super young (like 22 grandkids under 10). His family laughed at and taunted me for being so paranoid and anxious. It was pretty miserable, but I’m just not OK with the possible consequences of unsupervised children around things like 4-wheelers, pools, horses, streets, etc.

  41. I’ve always been super paranoid about water and kids. Thank you for talking about your experience so that parents can be more vigilant. Your honesty could very well save lives.

  42. Thank you. As a new mom to a one year old, I have wondered how to do the swimming thing with her. You have made a VERY large impression on my heart. So thank you!

  43. Wow. I do not know you, but this post really brought tears to my eyes. I cannot even imagine what losing or almost losing a child would feel like. Nor do I want to. I agree with all of this post 100%. So many people are laid back about things. I hope you and your family continue to heal from this.

  44. As a previous lifeguard at a waterpark, I would just like to thank you for this post. So many people don’t realize how fast and scary drowning can be. I can’t tell you the number of kids I’ve pulled out of the water. I’d just like to add that parents shouldn’t rely on lifeguards. We’re there as a LAST resort. This post was perfect. There is nothing in this world that can substitute for a parent’s close supervision.

  45. Thank you for having the guts to put this out there. It’s uncomfortable for me to read but so important. We are renting a house with a pool right now and while I have had some awful daydreams about drownings and have tried to keep my kids and other kids safe, I still am not as careful as I should be. I will be better. It does happen so fast. Thanks for being so awesome! I don’t know you in person but I just love when you write, Kate. I can always relate to you.

  46. Kate – sending good thoughts your way. I appreciate your honesty and sharing of your emotions. My younger son had an accident involving a brick wall and his face almost 3 years ago. My husband and I were right there – I was taking pictures of him. We can’t help but relive that expereience over in our heads on a very regular basis. Whether or not others think we should be “over” it by now doesn’t matter – it 100% affects how we parent and our over cautious behavior. We do the best we can. I feel for you completely.
    I’ll be more careful at the pool this summer – thank you!

  47. Kate, thank you so much for writing this. Our children and so precious and we need to be reminded not to take anything for granted. I literally have tears flowing right now.

  48. Thank you for a great reminder. I have always been very anxious about taking my son (who will be four this summer) to the pool. He is so busy and moves so fast that I know I can’t take my eyes off him. I am always in the pool with him and never sit on the edge of the pool and chat with the other moms. And to be honest I feel like I’ve been judged for being “too cautious”. I think as moms sometimes we worry a lot about what other moms think about what kind of job we’re doing and I almost felt like I was getting peer pressure to back off a little. When I’ve taken my son to the pool for play dates, all his little friends are in floaties and he’s the only one in a coast guard-approved life jacket. One time someone sort of jokingly said, “Well he’s definitely not going to drown, is he!” Umm, yeah, that’s the whole point. So judgement can go both ways, and it’s definitely dangerous to judge others for taking safety seriously. Thanks again for your honesty and for reminding us all that you can’t be too cautious around water.

  49. Thank you for sharing more of yourself with us and for the reminder that most of us need. As I read through this my heart was breaking for you. What a horrible thing to have happen and worse when it is your own child. I can’t even begin to imagine how this must have been for you. A couple of summers ago we had an experience with my niece, we were at the lake with her family and we got distracted for just a few minutes and that is all it took. Thankfully we caught her before she lost consciousness but I can still see her floating face down. That was enough to make me quite paranoid for a while with my own kids but I had forgotten about that and I needed this reminder especially now that we live in a neighborhood with a pool. I know that I don’t really know you ladies in person but I am grateful to you for sharing parts of your lives with us. I find that my heart aches with you through the difficult things and rejoices with you through the triumphs and happy times. I hope you have a wonderful day.

  50. Thanks for this… I hope your readers will take the advice to heart. We had a near miss with my son when he was 3 (he’s almost 11 now), even though I was the most vigilant mother I knew around water. We have a backyard pool (it came with the house). It’s separately fenced and locked. Even though my kids are older now (age range: 8-13), the rule is that anyone found inside the pool fence without permission (say, to fetch a ball, or feel the water), is DONE swimming in the pool for the rest of the year. No one has tested me on this, because they know I’m serious. I also make their friends show me their swimming skills – if they’re not strong enough for the deep end, they have to stay in the shallow end or wear a life jacket.

  51. I consider myself a protective mom, but I needed this wake up call. I realize I am not as cautious as I need to be when we are at the pool. Thanks for helping me see and change that.

  52. Kate….I LOVE YOU! You are perfectly brave! This article touched my heart in so many ways. I found myself almost yelling out loud at the computer…YES at each sentence. You know I echo and support each and everything you wrote in this post. I’m like you, I don’t speak out much, but this topic is boiling more and more within me and it seems a water advocate is part of my new life and destiny. Thank you for not only taking the time to write this, but relive those difficult moments and fears. I’m sure it wasn’t easy and I applaud you for it. Although I don’t like the reason, I’m so thankful you have come into my life and I can honestly call you friend! So much love to you!!! And oh that Clark….I really do want to meet him someday. He’s a special one!

  53. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You so eloquently said how I feel. I was a lifeguard before I had kids and so I know the signs of drowning- but it’s scary how most don’t. I’m so sorry you had to, and are still going through this traumatic event in your life.

  54. Wow. After reading your first 2 paragraphs, my immediate thought was “Were we separated at birth?” You described me to a T. I have to say, though, that you are far more brave than I am for posting about your son at all. Wow. You are STRONG.

    I, myself, have a crippling fear of water and cannot swim (I’m very, um, dense and sink like a rock if I try to float). I did take swim lessons when I was a kid and have a horrific memory of being dragged out of the pool when I couldn’t make it back to the side after practicing treading water.
    ANYWAYS….my husband is a very strong swimmer, thankfully, and our kids are in swim lessons (no choice!) and are doing fairly well. I have anxiety watching them in lessons, though, even though they are being watched and there are lifeguards all around. I don’t take my eye off them for a minute though, despite this. We were recently in Hawaii and they were the only kids on the beach wearing lifejackets, but it’s non-negotiable. They want to go in the ocean? They wear a lifejacket and my husband has to be within grabbing distance. I was having mini-panic attacks watching little kids (my kids are 9) running in the waves or on boogie boards with no parents near or even watching. I really wanted to scream “Watch your kids!!!” but, being non-confrontational, I didn’t. I was too focused on obsessively watching my kids as they were in waist deep water LOL.

    I’ve rambled but just wanted to let you know how impactful your post was and let you know how much admiration I have for you posting this!

  55. I know I already commented, but I just wanted to share a tip my mom used to help kids be super water safe. We took the swim lessons, but we also had to complete 3 summers of competitive swim team, even if we weren’t fast or disliked competition. I hated it at the time, but that repetitious swimming and tough coaching made me into a really strong swimmer. I asked my mom recently why she was so insistent about swim team, and her response was because my oldest brother had a near-drowning incident as a 3 year old! I never knew, but I have been so grateful she went that route and plan to do the same with my kids.

  56. Thank you also, bc you have I realize that sometimes I am on the other end of the spectrum- teasing or being judgemental when I see people. be “over”protective around water. Thanks for teaching me you can’t be protective or safe ENOUGH around water.

  57. Thank you so much for sharing your story the first time, and now this follow up. My husbands family has a lake cabin. Prior to kids I thought it was this fun place. I am now so terrified to “enjoy” it with our kids (3&1). Neither my husband or I are strong swimmers. This post really gave me some great things to think about.

  58. Kate, I KNOW this post will help children around the world. I know it. Awareness is huge. I’m single and rarely go to the pool simply because I see so many kids not being supervised and I can’t relax myself because I’m obsessed with watching other people’s children!
    It can happen in an instant and it is major.
    Thank you.

  59. Thank you for this post. Our new house has a pool and because of you I will be extra vigilant with my little one. I plan on sharing this with anyone who wants to come over and swim as well.

  60. I watched my son almost drown during an ‘end of swim lesson’ party with the lifeguards who had taught him. The lifeguards were all playing and not watching their students! I called the pool afterwards, but I’m going to call them again this year and tell them how much more careful they need to be! I’m also going to sign up for a CPR class. My kids aren’t taking summer sports so that they have time to take swim lessons instead, which I feel is a more important, life-long skill! Thank you for sharing your heart. I’ve been through anxiety and depression and it’s so so hard and even harder to pull out of. You’re awesome!!!

  61. Thank you for sharing this difficult experience and for your wise advice. I hope that this post is also therapeutic for you. It obviously is helping everyone that reads it. I love your website, but I don’t usually comment. This post is different.

    My dad was afraid of water and his solution was not to let his kids go swimming ever, at all. This worked until I was 10 and finally talked him into letting me go to a pool with a group of friends. One of my friends convinced me to jumping into the deep end, right by the edge of the pool. Dumb, but she said I would be safe since I was at the edge. She had no idea that when I said I didn’t swim, I really didn’t at all. The lifeguard had to come pull me out, sputtering and coughing. I was embarrassed and scared. I never told my parents, but I stayed in the shallow end for the rest of my teenage years.

    When I went to college, the first thing I did was taking a Swimming for NON-Swimmers class. And then I took it again. Eventually I made it to the Beginning class, and then Intermediate. I admit, I am still afraid in water over my head, even as an adult. Those feeling I had as a 10 year old still haunt me. Finally, my husband who is a strong swimmer, taught me how to play in the water. I was comfortable because I was right next to him. Snorkeling is my favorite, because I can enjoy the water without struggling to breath.

    I didn’t want our sons to have that terror I experienced, so we made sure they had swimming lessons every year since they were little. We always played in the water as a family, and those are some of the best memories ever.

    I love your emphasis on parent vigilance and the comparison to the chainsaw. Swimming lessons alone is not enough. Thanks again for being so open and helping the rest of us.

  62. I worked as a nanny for several years and I thought it was odd that so many families required me to be CPR/First Aid certified, but most of the parents were not certified themselves. Knowledge is power. CPR saves lives every day.

  63. So many good reminders. I’ve spent several summers working at a scout aquatics camp, and I’m constantly counting heads with my classes, even on boats (especially kayaks!) and even with lifejackets. I know they can all swim, because we do swim checks as soon as they get there, but I also know that if I have 12 kids in a class, I also have 12 moms or dads who are trusting me to make sure their kid comes home to them at the end of the week, and that’s the most important part of the job.

  64. Thank you so much for posting. The timing was perfect. My husband is a water safety instructor and a lifeguard instructor trainer, as well as manager of a pool during the summer. He is currently being sued because of a near-drowning at a pool where he did training. Not the pool he manages, but another pool. Your words were comforting/encouraging to him. Thank you.

  65. Thank you for sharing!!!! I am learning as I go, but reading stories like yours help me really understand and prepare. I want to thank you for teaching me so much. I feel less anxious at the pool now because I know it isn’t silly to stay right with them and hover around then. I have had to grab a child a couple of times and help them up because the conditions changed and they weren’t prepared. If I hadn’t known from your stories, I would have assumed they were fine instead of struggling.

  66. Thanks for sharing. Accidents happen to anyone and so very easily. It’s always important to stay vigilant without being paranoid. It’s not nearly swim weather here yet – we still have ice and snow in the ground. But things are thawing… that means the lakes and ponds aren’t covered in thick ice any more, creeks, streams and ditches are full of water (often rapid moving), and banks are slippery. Remind your kids that water accidents can happen in any season and be aware of where your children are and what they’re doing.

  67. Thank you so much for sharing this. It is entirely too scary how easy it is to get lax about water safety. We used to do a yearly Lake Pwoeel trip with my husband’s family and if my baby wasn’t in the pack n’ play she was wearing her life jacket, I was that nervous in the houseboat.

    The only thing that I would add is something you mentioned in the original story- get CPR trained. I hope to never have a need to use it, but I am so much more comfortable knowing that I can if I have to. Most hospitals have CPR and first aid classes on a regular basis.

  68. I was a lifeguard at a YMCA in high school and all but one of the kids I had to rescue were kids around the age of 5 or 6 holding on to the wall in the shallow end and they simply lost their grip on the wall and panicked.. These are often the kids that adults on the side can’t see because they’re right against the wall. Also, I completely agree with you about camps that have swim time. There is too much space in the pool and not enough eyes watching. Even as a teenager I was very on edge when I had to lifeguard while one of the camps was in the water. And my advice to parents is to spend the extra money and put your child in private swim lessons. You’ll get so much more bang for your buck and it’s much safer. You’d be shocked at how many kids I had to pull out of the water during a group swim lesson. The instructor only has one set of eyes and a group of 6-8 kids!
    Thanks for all your insight!

    1. I couldn’t agree more with the private lesson tip! I was a lifeguard as well and all the times I pulled someone out of the pool was during lesson time and it was always a group lesson!

  69. Your story along with a local boys story (near drowning at a pool on a Disney cruise about a year ago, he’s still in recovery – https://www.facebook.com/ChaseLykken) keeps me on my toes at all times while the kids are in the pool. I think my children think they are invincible but I keep telling them no one is safe and we have to respect water. We share many of the same beliefs and I’m glad you have the strength to post it for all to read. YOU GO GIRL!

  70. I absolutely love that you have chosen to write this post! I am sorry that you had a horrible (that’s not even a strong enough word to describe it) experience that prompted such a post too. That being said, the comments you made in this post regarding arm floaties, etc, absolutely needs to be said more often. I also love that you added the bit about lifeguards are not there to babysit. I was a lifeguard after high school and all the points you made are so important. And honestly, I think if I didn’t have the life-guarding experience, I would more than likely be guilty of some, if not several of these. It is scary and I feel like people are not aware how quickly something can happen, with you sharing what you went through, I think a lot more people will be paying a lot closer attention when any water play is involved. As for the one on one lessons, I am only comfortable with that as well. When my son first started lessons, I thought that I taught that same small group of lessons and he would be fine. But after one swim session like that, I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like I was having an anxiety attack every lesson until I switched him to private lessons. It was a lot more expensive, but worth every single penny. For a 6 year old, he has incredible swim skills, but not enough for me to walk away or be distracted while he is in the pool. I also think it is important for people to know that just because your kid can swim really well by the end of a summer, that they don’t need lessons ever again. Skills are lost when there is not constant practice and I feel like lessons are important each year. Thank you for sharing these vital safety tips so others can be aware how easily and quickly something can happen.

  71. This is a wonderful post. As a mother of three small children, I could truly feel your pain, urgency and thoughtfulness as I read. Thank you so much for opening up to all of us “strangers” to share this very important message. I am looking up how and where to sign up for CPR classes right now! My two best friends and I have 9 children, under 6, between the three of us, and not one of us are certified in first aid/CPR (I used to be, go figure!). And that scares me to death. I just hope you know how many peoples lives you probably saved by posting this.

  72. I am so glad you wrote this, back in my younger days I was a lifeguard . I did that for at least 4 years, and I cant count how many saves I had, and most of them the child was right next to the parent. The parent was just involved in a conversation and not paying full attention. Now being a parent I am so paranoid, and I am sure my kids hate it, but if it just me and them at the pool we all stay together. My oldest does swim team, and I would still never let her go swimming on her own yet. I hope to teach them great water safety, since water is fun, but really so dangerous.

  73. Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge. It is a great reminder to me that even though my 10 and 6 year old are good enough swimmers to swim competitively they still need to watched like hawks. Swimming alone in a lane or with others at practice is not the same as playing in the pool when unpredictable things can happen. When my oldest was about 7 I was sitting poolside chatting with other moms…the kids had been playing for hours and the watching closely became less and less and the kids became comfortable and the moms were chatting more. One of the younger kids in the pool grabbed onto my girl’s back to ride like she does with her dad and pulled my daughter under. Thank God she was close to the edge and grabbed on to pull herself up and yell for me. I don’t know how long she was under, but if she hadn’t gotten herself up and yelled I wouldn’t have seen a thing until it was WAY too late. It happens so fast. I can’t even imagine seeing your child as you had to. I’m so happy he is ok and you are stepping outside of your comfort zone to share.

  74. It is about this time of year I get super anxious too. My 18 month was climbing up the ladder and I was right behind her and she slipped. She sunk to the bottom of the pool in 2 seconds. I grabbed her immediately. This still haunts me. My kids will always wear bright colored swimsuits and will always have coast guard approved life vests! I have used floaties in the past, but when I had to keep blowing them up throughout the day I took that as a sign. What if it deflated while one of my kids were swimming. They would drown. I almost drowned when I was a kid and I still have issues with my face being in the water. My mom turned her back for a second at the lake. Thankfully my sister was watching. I hope you and your son and will heal! And what a blessing I am sure you have been to others as they read your story and concerns, don’t apologize for them! You are saving lives and we should be grateful for your words.

    1. How scary, I’m so glad your daughter was okay! Thanks for sharing the bright colored swim suits tip! That’s one I hadn’t heard before, but totally makes sense!

  75. This is such an important topic! I live in Texas, and while we don’t have a pool, they are everywhere and swimming lessons are a huge priority for my kids.

    Can I share a recommendation? Last year I came across Infant Swimming Resources (http://www.infantswim.com/). They teach children from 6 months to 6 years water rescue techniques (quite different from average swimming lessons). I signed up my 2 year old and he learned how to float if he fell in, and also how to swim to the side of the pool, taking breaks to float when he needed a breath. The last week of lessons he practiced floating and swimming while fully clothed, down to the shoes. He cried sometimes, but I feel so much better knowing that he can help himself if an accident happens. It is a national organization with instructors across the country. I already signed him up for a refresher course this summer.

  76. Just an FYI, April is learn to swim month for US Masters Swimming. Please see the link http://www.usms.org/giving/content/learntoswim. “According to the Centers for Disease Control, 37 percent of American adults can’t swim the length of a pool, which puts them at risk of being one of the 10 people who drown every day in the United States. The Swimming Saves Lives Foundation, U.S. Masters Swimming’s charitable arm, has declared the month of April “Adult Learn-to-Swim Month.” That’s when pools, lakes, and beaches are opening up for spring and summer recreation. The governors of Indiana, Nebraska, Washington, Maine, and New Jersey have already issued proclamations in support. If you or a loved one doesn’t know how to swim, contact one of the below resources and get started! Swimming skills can save your life both by preventing drowning, and by providing you with the skills needed to make swimming for fitness part of a long-term healthy lifestyle. If you can’t find adult learn-to-swim lessons in your area, or would like more information, please contact us at info@usms.org
    For learn-to-swim lessons for CHILDREN, contact the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash program.”

    Please take advantage of this. No one should have these experiences.

    Victoria

  77. Thank you so much for this, such great information to remember. I’m especially impressed by your courage in saying the things that you wish you had said. It’s so unfortunate that we can’t be free to say things that we feel strongly about. I’m grateful that you spoke up, and I hope that a lot of people read your words and are a little more careful!

  78. Kate – I was 3 years old when my cousin drowned in a canal in front of his rural home. I still remember it… He, his younger brother (18 months) and I were playing in the front yard – as I remember it – alone. I WILL NEVER FORGET IT! I hate water. I hate boating. I hate swimming pools. I am 41 years old – my son had a lacrosse practice at the pool the other night – and I had near panic attack. He’s 16 and a strong swimmer. ((I’m a pill about swimming lessons for my kids. They have to be able to save their own lives in the water since they have no chance counting on me….or we stay away from the water completely!)) You can call it overprotective, crazy, neurotic – whatever! But anyone who can prevent a child/adult from growing up with this special brand of anxiety of water – should! Please don’t apologize for being our “water safety friend”. It’s NOT lost on me.

  79. I experienced part of what you talked about last night. My 5-year old was showing me how far he could walk out into the water and I could tell he was having trouble, but he didn’t flail or say anything. It terrified me to think how easily a drowning could happen without anyone noticing.

  80. Thank you for sharing your personal story and using it to educate and save lives. Being real and honest can be scary in this format, but it is appreciated! This is a needed reminder as the weather gets warmer.

  81. Kate- Thank you! I feel like I’m a fairly water-wise, conscientious parent. However… I have three kids- the boys are 8 and 11 and my baby girl will be 7 months old when summer starts. In thinking about summer time, I fully imagined taking the three of them to the pool during the day.

    My heart and mind was changed when I read this from you: “If I could go back and tell my pre-near-drowning self something, it would be to ask what the heck I was doing holding a three-month-old baby with my feet in the water while my kids swam in the pool. What would I have done if no one else had been there? My sheer presence would not have saved anyone. Where would I have put the baby? What would I have actually done?”

    I imagined it in my head. What would I do? Where would I set a 7 month old baby if I needed to help her brother? How would that work?

    Thank you! Thank you!
    Now, we will plan our pool trips more purposefully. We will wait until the evening to go when my husband can come with us. Or we will invite another mom and talk with her about being water-wise and we will watch our children instead of getting absorbed in conversation.

    Thank you for posting this article. I am positive that your message will save lives.

  82. Thanks for this great info. I take my kids to our gym where they have a life guard on duty, and I let my 8 and 10 year old boys (both good swimmers) go swimming with out me there – the club policy is that they be at least 6, but I don’t let my kids until they are 8. Am I being too naive? I’m just asking for your opinion here. Is it still not safe for them, even with a life guard on duty?

  83. Thank you for sharing. I am committing to leave all distractions at home. No phone…no books…just me watching the kids. Tha

  84. Thank you. I could totally relate to your comments about being diagnosed with PTS. I too experienced this for the first time in my life {I am 49 this year}….I realized I couldn’t feel anything but anger for months after being hit by a truck {I was the pedestrian} and almost lost my life, but for surely my quality of life for a time. It will be 1 year ago on May 2nd. I finally got help also….and life looks so much better. Thank you for your thoughts…..and for sharing. It’s funny { I am sure there is a better word here…but can’t think of it right now} how once a traumatic experience happens……all we have is the desire to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else. It’s all I could do for months afterwards: Share and Warn. Thank you for your warnings. It DOES help someone. You just never know who.

  85. Thank you. I’ve read your blog for 4 years, and I never comment, I’m just a silent enjoyer/reader. But As I read your intro you were completely describing my personality so I totally relate to that.
    I just want to say thank you about this post. We just bought a house with a pool and I am completely freaking out about it, (but I also live in Vegas where the weather is 100+ for 4 months so it was a good choice for us after being here 5 years without a pool) However, I am going to pin this post to my favorites and I hope that I come back to it frequently because I always need this reminder. I have been guilty of leaving my 5 and 3 year old in the bath playing while I nurse my baby because I thought they were fine, but after reading this I have committed again to being more wise and NEVER leaving them without supervision. Thank you for saying what you said. I’m sure it was hard, but it really hit home to me and made sense to me.

  86. Your first post on this subject really got me thinking and aware. This post was awesome. Thanks for the reminder. I can’t imagine all the emotions and grief you have gone through, but thanks for sharing with us because I think it will help keep a lot of kids safe!
    Last summer, because of your post, I followed my son (15 months then) around the splash pad like a hawk. If he was in the “shallow,” pool area, I had a hand on him at all times. I felt like a helicopter mom, especially since there were kids his age and younger wandering around with mom several feet away, but I just didn’t care.
    Another thing that I plan to do soon as my son is getting more curious is to put a lock on my top loading washer. I don’t know if they make child locks you can install or not, but we will figure something out! 🙂 I am constantly thinking of what he can get into (is my sink empty, is the bathroom door shut?) because you kind of have to! 🙂
    I loved this post. I loved how bold you were and direct. I think people need to hear it. Thank you again for sharing all this with us! I know that it was probably very difficult to write and harder to push that publish button. Thank you!

  87. Thank you, Kate. Good reminders of how easy it is to be distracted or feel that the kids “will be fine.” Would never want what was supposed to be a fun day to turn into life-altering tragedy. Thanks for being brave. Glad you are all doing better.

  88. I trained as a Life Guard when I was a teen and, thankfully, never had to use it. When my son was about 10 we were at a hotel pool and he was in the pool with some other kids. He got to the place where the pool sloped down and panicked. I was sitting on a chair watching him and threw him the end of a towel. It scared both of us.

  89. Kate,
    I’ve been teaching lifeguarding for 44 years. I was taking a brain break from setting up this year’s classes when I came upon your posting today.

    Of all the classes I teach, lifeguarding is the one that scares me the most. I think long and hard about whether I trust each student with the care of a person’s life. They are not getting paid to sit in the sun and work on their tans. They are getting their entire summer’s paycheck for how they respond in the split second it takes for someone to get into trouble.

    May I have permission to use this in class? This is reality, not textbook, and I hope my students will come away with an awareness of the ramifications of their job.

    Darcy

  90. Thank you for sharing and most of all being open and honest. My daughter absolutely loves water and has no fear. Last summer was easy, now that she’s approaching 2 years old and is on the go, I worry so much more about everyday things and just told someone I don’t want to do pool and beach days alone. Extra hands and eyes are just so important! Hugs to you brave mama!

  91. Thanks Kate! My husband and I have 6 kids and going to the pool can be a terrifying experience! My hubby and I are both strong swimmers and former lifeguards, and we have both rescued kids whose mom’s or dad’s were sunbathing or snoozing. We take coast guard approved life jackets for kids under age 7 and watch everyone like a hawk. I once mentioned to a mom that I didn’t think arm floaties were safe and she stared at me like I had 3 heads. Sometimes people don’t listen until they have a close call. Thanks for the reminder to keep safe this summer.

  92. Thank you for sharing your heart. It is a very difficult, painful, and brave thing to do. We too nearly lost one of our children although through and accident rather than drowning. There is probably still much we haven’t dealt with, shared or written. My son has a hard time if the topic comes up, quickly asking us to talk about something else. His younger brother who was there, witnessed it and called me for help, has refused to talk about it ever. Your words not only can serve to save another child but begin a healing for you and your family.

  93. Beautiful post. I understand how it could be so hard to write. I think I had (have?) PTSD after a traumatic delivery and first week after having my son. Though it is now well over 3 years later, I still can’t get myself to write down his birth story. Your message is so important and because of your genuine words I am positive lives will be saved because we will all watch those kids more closely!

  94. ” What would I have done if no one else had been there? My sheer presence would not have saved anyone.”

    Oh, my goodness, this made my hair stand on end. You are 100% right that everyone needs to have a plan in place and truly THINK about what they will do if a water safety situation arises. As adults it is easy to think that our just being present is plenty of protection and will magically ward off disaster. Right up until disaster happens right in front of our unprepared eyes.

    When my husband and I were house shopping a couple of years ago we saw a really nice home in a great area with a beautiful yard. But…the owners had put in a deep Koi pond right in the middle of the lawn. I just couldn’t get over the thought of our dog falling in and not being able to climb out. Or a neighbor kid coming over the fence to retrieve a stray ball and falling in. Or one of us tripping on something and falling in, for heaven’s sake! I wondered if I was being stupid and was embarrassed to tell my husband I didn’t want the house because of the pond, but he immediately agreed with me and we didn’t get that house. Who knows if anything would ever have happened, but I feel such peace about leaving that scary situation behind.

    We all need to remember to trust our feelings and not let the risk of other people’s disapproval or ridicule dissuade us from taking whatever precautions we think best. It’s too bad more people aren’t aware of these drowning/water safety facts you have laid out for us. Thank you, so much, for your bravery and thoughtfulness. I’m going to share this post with everyone I know.

  95. Thank you for sharing your experience, your heart and this message. I was listening, so thank you. It will make me more aware and I will make better decisions based on this information. Thank you again.

  96. Thank you for sharing this. I am definitely too lax with my kids and water and so is my husband. With 5 kids under 10, it is really hard to keep track of everyone at the pool. You’ve inspired me to make water safety a priority. Thanks for putting yourself out there.

  97. I loved this post. I am not a mother yet, but water safety is so important! What I really related to was the beginning of your post, how life was after the accident. My sister attempted suicide a year ago and it still affects me to this day. I get triggered by the littlest things, and people don’t understand. They say, she’s still alive. And I’m so grateful for that. But that experience, sounded just like what you experienced. And it was reassuring and awesome to see that now, you’re speaking out and finally saying the things you’ve wanted to say after all this time.

  98. Thank you! Great reminder and you will never know who you might have saved! I have six kids and definitely have been guilty of some of the things you mentioned. I am going to be more vigilant than ever! Thanks!

  99. I guess I have PTSD also; 16 years ago my 1 wk old baby almost died because of dehydration (he refused to suck). I still think about what I could have done to force feed him. I developed a fear that something would happen and he would die. I still get jittery sometimes when he drives or does sports with his friends, thinking, “This is it!”. He is unaware of my behavior because I keep it all inside.
    Oh! By the way, I almost drowned as a preschooler-I remember going under, then the next thing I remember, I was on a chaise lounge. Needless to say, I took swim lessons every year after that, through life guard training. Thank you for telling your story. Water Safety is a must!

  100. This made my heart ache for you. I’m a total sympathy crier. I cried for you and your son and the emotions you must have gone through. I’m so glad to know that you got the help you needed. You are so smart for realizing that! I think that is the hardest part many times over because then we have to accept that we can’t fix/do it on our own and we aren’t perfect. You are amazing in my eyes! I hope this post was therapeutic for you and that no one hurts your feelings. Also, thanks for the advice and reminders on water safety.

  101. Kate!! Yes, it’s me Liz, from high school. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I just wanted you to know that I can really relate. Having your kid almost die is a tough experience. I know after mine I was on edge forever. It’s awesome to get help and I’m so glad you spoke up about it. Way to be tough Mama!!

  102. I agree with absolutely everything you said, and was always hyper-vigilant with my own kids. All the other “tanning” moms drove me crazy with worry over their kids–I had to be in the pool or on the edge with my legs in the water whenever mine were swimming (not lying on the side with my eyes closed). My kids are grown now, but a couple years ago we were leaving a very small but very crowded neighborhood pool with 2 lifeguards and one of them jumped in to pull out a blue floating child from very shallow water, and resuscitated him. I cannot put into non-expletive descriptors the way I felt about the mom sauntering over to yell at her older child whom she had apparently made responsible for the younger one. You could see the younger one was blue from across the pool. I would have FLOWN across that pool to get to the younger kid if it had been my child. And the only thing I would ever have said to the older one was that it was not his fault, and I would have said that over and over and over again until he knew and understood that as fact. Any idiot could see the older kid was already torn up–he had run to his brother’s side and been screaming and crying as he was being resuscitated. But…I never would have made the older one responsible in the first place. I swear, he could not have been older than 10 (maybe 9) and the younger one was 4 or 5. I know I have not always made the best decisions as a parent myself, but I was REALLY upset for how that mom must have traumatized that older boy for life, on that day.

  103. Thank you! I was so grateful to read your post. I am a parent who spends our whole time at the pool counting the kid’s heads to make sure they are all still okay. I am grateful feel like I am on the right track.

  104. I am so thankful for your post. I am one of the moms that worries/stresses about every single thing in their children’s life. One of my biggest fears is having one of my children drown. They took lessons for the first time last year and had a great experience. We did private lessons because I wanted the swim instructor to focus solely on them and not get distracted by other children. I am not a confident swimmer, so I wasn’t comfortable taking them to the pool….and still am not. There is only one of me and I can’t feasibly watch the two of them. Yes, it means that on those hot Utah summer days we play in the pool in the backyard where I can watch them like a hawk instead of going to the city pool. Yes, it means that they miss a day of summer camp when the group is supposed to go and play at the pool. It also means that I don’t have to worry and stress about something that scares me more than I like to admit. Your post has validated my feelings and concerns. Thank you for sharing your feelings and what you went through in the hopes that it can help others be safer.

  105. Thank you for this post. I too also drowned at a young age bc I was not a good swimmer on a blow up toy then fell off and most adults had gone in to eat at the mess hall. We were at family reunion and all I can remember is that I realized I couldn’t reach the bottom or the side and after a few bobs I saw some penny loafers with actual pennies in them and she realized I need help and pulled me out. We just moved to a complex with a pool, I think I needed to read this as summer approaches and I have been thinking of going back to work and getting a sitter who could just take the kids to the pool to play during the summer. Felt like I needed this reminder thank you.

  106. Thank you for writing this. I have gotten too lax about bathtime and I’m going to change my ways. And it’s perfect timing for a reminder going into spring and summer. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

  107. I read your story last year, including the article about drowning doesn’t look like drowning. Last summer we were at a hotel resort pool in Florida and I saw a child silently bobbing up and down in the water. If I hadn’t read the article I doubt I would have noticed, but I immediately went over and pulled him out of the water. He was maybe eight or nine and didn’t have any adults with him. I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t been there, but your story gave me confidence to do what I needed to do, and maybe made a difference in the life of this child. Thank you for sharing your experiences and for the reminder to take water safety seriously.

  108. Thank you for sharing your story as well as the timely reminder!!! While I no longer have small children and do not got to a pool that often, it’s still a wake up call to be mindful of this. Also, just as we talk about being on the watch with younger kids, parents need to remind their teenagers of the dangers that can befall them as well. A few years ago, there were so many deaths in my area of teenagers who did not know how to swim and their friends not realizing they were not there until it was too late. I wish you and your family all the best!

  109. Thank you so much for sharing something so very personal and so very, very important for all of us. I had a brother drown when he was three and I also had a very scary near-drowning incident with one of my daughters when she was almost 2. Thank you for sharing your personal experience and insight and so many helpful reminders and warnings. I’m sure this post will help to save lives.

  110. This is powerful and I’ve shared it on fb. I’ve been a water lover for over 60 years, but I also have known for a long, long time the power of water. My nephew drowned as a tiny child when he fell/got knocked into a ditch. As a result, I had the most terribly realistic nightmare about my daughter in water and I was pretty crazy about water safety around water with my children. I also was trained to be a lifeguard in college in hawaii…couldn’t ever apply for a job, though, as I was scared of the responsibility and didn’t feel that I was strong enough. After the training, I hated being at the beach with just about anyone because I saw so much stupidity going on all the time, especially with little children! I, too, wish I had spoken up at the time. When my daughter was tiny, we had her take lessons. Two teachers with about a dozen kiddos. At the time, they would only let parebts in with the children every other lesson. Thankfully, we were in when a little boy jumped in, wasn’t seen by his teachers as he stayed under until we all started yelling. He said he just kept thinking he’d pop up eventually! Another couple seconds and I would have been in the water, but thankfully, the teachers got to him in time. After that, my daughter didn’t go to class unless I could be there. It just takes too little water, too little time, too little thoughtlessness! Thanks again

  111. A few years back my two boys started swim lessons. There were two instructors and about ten kids. One day they wanted the kids to swim/doggy paddle across the pool (not the length, just across. It was the same depth straight across). Even though they (the instructors) were right there, my one son and another child were struggling and going under ( the two boys were not near each other). I screamed to the instructors and was about to jump in, but they got both of them to safety and they were fine. Thank the Lord. But I never forgot that scare. And I was constantly watching them all the time even though they had good instructors. My brother came to watch one of their lessons and the whole time he was on me about “hovering” over them while they were taught (I’d be close to the pool’s edge watching my children, as we’re some other parents). He just didn’t understand even though I told him (he doesn’t have children). He thought we could sit back and relax. But after that summer of swim lessons, they knew how to swim, go under water, and also be cautious/watch out for of those around you in the pool. They learned about safety also. Even though they know how to swim, I always still go in the pool with them. Always watching like a hawk.

  112. WOW, Thank you for sharing! I’m so happy your son is ok! This is one of my worst nightmares, it happened to my mom’s friend when I was young and it wasn’t a happy ending. Because of that I have taught all of my kids how to swim starting as early as 6 months. At the beginning of every summer we retrain and go over water safety rules, and tub is a place to talk and train all year long. Thank you for bringing this to everyone’s awareness, I needed to be reminded and your right a small distraction as long as a minute can be to long. I needed to see this. Thanks again!

  113. Thank you for this important reminder. We have a trip planned involving a week filled with water fun! We also spend a lot of time every summer at Lake Powell and some people who attend with us think I am neurotic because my kids have to wear their life jackets at all times, even when eating. I appreciate you posting this… very much.

    C

  114. I’m so sorry you had to go through this! I too, have experienced the awfulness of nearly losing a child to drowning. We were at a public indoor pool. I was pregnant, with 3 children swimming. My sister and a friend were also there with the sole purpose of helping me watch my kids because I was super paranoid. My son walked around to the back of the slide, and I fully expected to see him come down seconds later, but he didn’t. I was looking around to see where he went, and asked my sister if she saw him. I looked up, and on the opposite side of the entire rec center, I saw him jump into the lazy river. No lifeguard could see him. It was in the very corner. I yelled to my sister and we both started running. All I remember is seeing his hands flailing in the air as his head was under the water for what felt like an eternity to reach him! And then his hands went limp. My sister dove in and swam to him before a lifeguard was aware. I’ll never forget those awful images. If I hadn’t looked up at that very moment, he could very well have drowned. We had one adult there per child! And still an accident can happen! I’m so glad you posted this. People think that once their child can swim, everything is good. But accidents do happen!

  115. Well done. I lost my 11 year old son, Nate and his best friend on July 4, 2012 in a
    lake accident. What you wrote was brave and kind. It takes a strong
    mom who has experienced great grief to be heard. I am thankful for your words.

  116. Thank you so much for writing your posts. While reading about your son almost drowning I had goosebumps and made me so scared.. I don’t watch my older kids like I should but after reading your story I am so much more aware. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was not as observent and am so much more now due to reading your courageous post . I am so grateful to have read it and as we head off on a trip next week to AZ I am so thankful. My husband is very confident in my 2 older sons swimming abilities .. Too confident and I will have him read your story before we go so he truly knows how fast it can happen!! That is my biggest fear and I want u to know as a mother we all feel for u and know that this could have easily happened to anyone of us and hopefully never will now because u chose to speak out!! Thank you again!!!

  117. Kate, Kelly, and everyone else who has lost or almost lost their child or someone to a drowning, my heart goes out to you. May you feel our compassion and sadness and also admiration for your courage at going on as strong women, trying to help others understand what you learned from your grief. Hugs!

  118. This post was a really good reminder to me to be “over” careful with my two small ones and water. As they have gotten older I’m afraid I’ve gotten lax about things like running into the other room while they’re in the tub to grab and towel and things like that. Thank you for sharing your story. It has definitely motivated me to be more vigilant! Thank you!

  119. This post made me super emotional. I don’t have firsthand experience with this but just the thought of it gives me anxiety bordering on panic. I’ve pulled both of my sons from the water when they were struggling, once while fully dressed and had to jump in because my husband was on the other side of the pool with our older son, and since then they do not get into a pool unless I’m there with them. My son’s best friend (they’re 9) has a pool and he invites him to go swimming all summer long but my answer is always no. If I’m not invited, he can’t go. Thank you for your story and honesty. I’m so sorry your family had to experience this.

  120. I know the main message in this post is the water safety issue, but I want to thank you for mentioning PTSD. Most people don’t think of a mom when they think of this. I also suffer from it after losing my son 5 years ago. So glad you are working through it and I wish you the best.

  121. I totally agree with everything you said. I once joined my sis-in-law, niece, and nephews to the beach with my two kids (my four year old with autism I planted on the shore right next to me). There were two adults and five children (all the older ones could swim and we’d been to the beach a gazillion times just like this before), but I counted each one over and over again anyway. Ethan was kid 5. And then, once when I turned to count 5, like I’d done dozens of times before, he wasn’t there. I immediately started calling him, LOUDLY, making a spectacle of myself, and my SIL got all of the rest of the kids out of the water. We frantically looked and looked, then I involved the lifeguards, then the town police got involved, and then the harbor police started trolling the bay. 25 minutes went by, and I thought I was going to hyperventilate to death. Thankfully, my story too has a happy ending; my son was stepped on by someone, since he was completely covered in sand, being very still in a slight hole in the sand while the beach clamored with shouts of his name. My point in writing this is I know how you feel. The only thing worse than to come close to losing your child is to actually lose them. It’s been nine and a half years since that day, but I still wish I’d overcome my fear of being looked at as one of those “weird” parents who put their kids on a leash and actually had him tied to me so it didn’t happen! A few years after this he developed a seizure disorder, so you can bet I or my husband are glued to his side if we are in the water, and if he’s watching my son then I’m watching my daughter and vice versa. It doesn’t matter that she’s taken swim safety courses, that she does swim team, that she’s confident and aware in the water. None of that matters. Beautiful post, it was beautifully written, and I hope you can begin to recover too. One thing…I have found that living in fear gives me heartburn, insomnia, increased tachycardia with congestive heart failure symptoms, and more migraines. I finally learned to live with faith instead. I do all that I can, being a more careful steward for sure. But I can only send him off to school every day through faith that no matter what happens, his life, my life, all of our lives are in God’s hands. And even if the worst happens, it will still be okay. Thanks again for sharing and bringing more awareness to your readers.

  122. When my Kate was 2 I was at the Provo pool (that has a million kids, beach front type thing), and was there with 2 friends. My one friend was sitting by me where the beach front started, while I held Spencer (who was like 6 months) and my other friend was up with the kids. I was worried about Kate though. I was watching her like a hawk. All the sudden she slipped, and went under. My friend was RIGHT there and didn’t see b/c she was distracted by one of her kids. I practically threw Spencer at my friend I was sitting by and ran to Kate and grabbed. The lifegaurd was right there too. It was TERRIFYING for me. Because of that experience I have anxiety about my kids and water. I want them to be in swimming lessons so they can be confident and safe in the water. Although, I agree 100% that it doesn’t mean that they can be alone in the water.
    My kids school goes to the local outdoor swimming pool as an end of the year activity. The ENTIRE school I didn’t let my kids go last year b/c I just couldn’t wrap my head around how that’d even be safe. They were upset, but we did something else fun instead. We also haven’t ventured to 7 Peaks b/c I can’t pay attention to 6 kids.
    That was really long. I sure love you lots! I’m sorry it’s been so hard to get through all of this. You’re amazing Kate, and I’m so grateful to call you my friend. I’m grateful that Clark is okay and doing better. Thanks for sharing your story. This has been wonderful.

  123. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I needed to that great reminder! Excited for summer and pool time but I will for sure be a lot more cautious from here on out! Glad your story ended well.

  124. In a couple of weeks my husband and I are heading back home to California with our four boys for some much needed sunshine, beach, and pool time. I’m so glad you shared your story and your feelings, advice, everything! I admit, especially when my children were really young, I was one of the those freakishly safety-conscious moms. I always stayed right with my kids at the pool and it was right in front of me 10 years ago that my 20 month old son (who is fine) vanished right before my eyes. I must have look down or away for a split second, but he was gone! The life guard was sitting right on top of us. There were kids and adults all around me and in the water. Nothing seem wrong except that my child was gone! I immediately flew out of my chair and to the edge of pool. There he was – under the water – face up – looking up at me! it’s a seen, a picture, imprinted in my mind and I will never ever forget! I could tell he hadn’t been under the water for long because he was kind of smiling – not panicking yet, but I knew I had to get him out fast! I was 8 1/2 months pregnant. I yelled for help as I jumped in, but nobody seemed to hear me. As I struggled like a buoy (or an over inflated beach ball) to force myself under the water to reach him, I was able to push his body and face up out of the water. Finally people started to notice the struggle and rushed over to help. I don’t think the young life guard ever really “got” what was happening right beneath her. My own experience haunts me. My boys are older now. Still your story is such a good reminder that I need to be watching and aware always. Because of your post today, I will be ever more vigilant! I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through. Thank you so much for listening to your heart and sharing your experience.

  125. Hi…

    I so appreciate what you have written here. I dove in to pull my nephew out of the water and did CPR til the fire rescue arrived but he didn’t make it. The terror and emotion of the ordeal is too horrific to even imagine. If only people understood how carefully they need to watch their children near water. I am like you and a people pleaser. I never mentioned it on FB really. I internalized everything and experienced such anger and rage for an entire year without really understanding why or even that it was happening. I tried to pretend that it was an accident and that we did everything we could but it just happened. But the truth is, I feel/felt like if only I had done this… or that….he would still be here and my children would not have a favorite cousin that drowned in front of them and that my sister in law and her family wouldn’t be mourning the loss of their little boy. Its been 3 years and still every year this time of year when the weather turns nice I wish there was some way I could shout from the mountaintop and force everyone to listen to me: don’t let this happen to you!!!! Unfortunately, I live in an area where there are many pools and many warnings…almost to the point that they are so common that I wonder if anyone even really hears them anymore on the radio and TV. Anyway, thank you for your message and how well written it is. You have spoken for me and given me the courage to talk about it. You’ve made me feel ok about my own reaction. I’ll be sharing this on FB even though one of my friends already shared it.

  126. Thank you so much!! I loved this article and I’m sure it was hard for you to reflect back. You can never have too many reminders about water safety! When I was 9, my 13-year old brother drowned in a boating accident and he was an excellent swimmer!! It was the most tragic, difficult thing my family went through. And now that I have kids of my own it’s my biggest fear to have them do the same! It always makes me anxious just thinking about kids struggling in the water! I hope everyone, including myself remembers to be safe and cautious around the water with kids!

  127. It’s the silence of it that is so important to remember. You will not hear it happening, not even if you are right there. Last year, my then 4 year old son slipped underwater as I was standing right next to him in the pool. There was a lifeguard about 8 ft away, but looking the other direction. My son had walked right of the ledge of a built-in underwater bench as I looked across the pool at my mom to see if SHE was watching my son to see how “great” he was swimming. I looked back to where he was standing and found he was not only underwater, but was about 6 ft away from me due to the current in this lazy river. I grabbed him and he was hysterical but okay, and I think about that every time we go to the pool now. I thought back to it for months, and tried to count how long he could have been underwater while i was looking the other direction. I still don’t know, but i know that a few more seconds might have made the difference. He is 5 now, and not a strong swimmer yet. THANK YOU for the words of wisdom.

  128. I’m so glad you wrote this post. I grew up in Phoenix, and they preach on the news “watch your kids around water” all the time, but there are still accidents and loss of life every year. So it’s an important and good reminder. You have a very popular blog and a lot of people respect you gals, so use your space to do good and don’t regret it. You have made me rethink water safety, so thanks!

  129. Taking my family to aspen grove this summer, they basically watch our kids for us all day-and I noticed pool time for each of the age groups on different days. My first thought/feeling when I saw the pool time was a bit of hesitation or worry. But then I talked myself out of it-saying. Things like, “I’m sure it’s safe” & “they wouldn’t do anything without proper supervision”. But now, I feel certain this article was for me. I will be there for pool time, I promise. Bathing suit on, in the water. Thank you.

  130. Thank you for posting this. I missed your first post, and this is such a timely reminder as the weather warms up. As my daughter gets older I know I’ve gotten more lax about keeping my eyes on her while swimming or playing at the beach, but you have reminded me just how necessary it is. Again, thank you!

  131. I don’t think you’re all that unique in your post-accident fears. I’m a relatively laid back mom..as in I never thought of myself as a helicopter mom. But, after my son drown I found that I worry much more about my kids than I ever used to. I remember about a month after it happened, my husband took my kids on a boat. It was really hard for me to let them go. I kept thinking that bad things happen to our family, and it could happen again. Its been really hard for me at times to balance the idea that I want my kids to be independant….even as small children…and yet I want to make sure they are safe. Hovering is just as bad as not watching them enough. I still haven’t quite figured it out. I never went to counseling, and I probably should have….maybe I still should. Glad you’re working through it

  132. I was a lifeguard before I had my son. A camp I used to work at had open swims where there was a guard on the docks and one for every 10-15 in the water. It should have been 4. Watching 10 kids from in the water? Trying to keep them all within arms reach? Impossible. But at 16, I wasn’t going to complain to my boss about it.

    Also, lifeguards can start guarding at 14. Not to brag, but I was a good one. When something happened, the emotions were gone and my training became instinct. Most kids freeze on their first… second… tenth rescue. I’ve seen it over and over and over again. And the main job of a lifeguard is prevention, so you might only see three real rescues (like, more than a bandaid) in your entire lifeguarding career, especially if you’re only working part time, as most do.

    Also, these kids don’t always have the best judgement. I became waterfront coordinator at a very small camp with only three lifeguards when I was 19. This was the first camp I went to where we didn’t have water on site, so we took them to a public beach. One guard had to stay on shore with the first aid kit. The other two were in the water with 30 kids, in the chaos that is an public beach. Thankfully we didn’t actually have an incidents there, but the guards (not the kids) kept being upset with me for forcing them to stay where they could touch the ground, even knowing that I was doing it to avoid the undertow and make sure that the guard with the first aid kit could actually get to us if she needed to.

    Just… don’t rely on the lifeguards. Even if you know them personally, you probably don’t know how they function in an emergency.

  133. Kate, thank you for such a courageous post with such raw emotions. You are so brave to post this and I thank you. My child almost drown in a backyard swimming pool while I was 3 feet from her AND she was wearing a life jacket. I couldn’t agree more with every point that you made. If this post change the view of just one parent and that ends up saving a childs life, then it is well worth it. Thank you.

  134. Your story is refreshing. Miracles and happy endings are few and far between in these situations.

    Please go to Infant Swimming Resource and look up your nearest instructor. THIS honestly is the most safe layer of protection against drowning for your children and family. While all other layers are very important and needed without this layer of survival swim skills for those ages 6 – 6 years or older if the child cannot get in and out of water above their head alone.

    Best

  135. I will think of this post every day that I’m at the pool this summer. In our neighborhood pool, I’m very often the only mom in the water with my kids. That’s partly because I have more kids with a bigger age span, but it’s also because I’ve seen every one of my kids slip off the steps or lose their balance and go under. It’s quick and it’s quiet and the only way to be able to pull them up quickly is to be right next to them and to be watching them. Because I’ve always been right there when it happens, I’m not (very) traumatized by it and my kids get just scared enough to learn to be more careful, which I consider a good thing. But it would be totally different if they had to stay under while I tried to get to them from far away. This summer I will remember your post and be braver about telling some of the other moms to get in with their children and I will be less sad about missing the chit-chat time with my friends because I need to be in the pool.

    Also, I can’t believe that for over a year you served us delicious recipes with a side of wit while you were suffering and angry. We owe you! Thanks for all the recipes and especially for this incredibly important post.

  136. I haven’t read all the comments so someone may already have said this: Teach your children to swim as soon as possible! Most children can learn to swim when they are 4 or certainly by age 5. Of course you must still watch them like a hawk but if they know how to swim, you’re that much better off. I have nephews who are ages 6 and 7 who don’t really know how to swim. Why? Because their mother is afraid they will drown! Such a Catch 22 situation but one that is perpetuated in this particular family. The mother of these boys can barely swim and worries with good reason that she couldn’t rescue them if they got in trouble. Why? Because her own mother didn’t let her learn to swim because the mother was afraid her daughter would drown! Oh my. They do go the beach and pools but aren’t allowed out of the shallow end. This is an accident waiting to happen.

  137. Thanks Kate! It is always good to have this reminder. I live in AZ and pool safety is really big here. I think what you have said about constant supervision is the biggest factor. Another added layer of protection that I personally love is the ISR program. They teach kids from 6 months to 6 years survival skills in the water. It is intense but its amazing to see what the kids are capable of. Its not available in all areas but it should be. The website is http://www.infantswim.com/

  138. Thank you so much for posting this. It helped me to re-evaluate how I am around the water and determine to be much more safe with my own family, and with church activities/parties/etc. Your story helped me to realize just how real drowning can be and how it’s not just some distant story that only happens to other people. Really, thank you. You are amazing for being determined to help other people even when it may result in some personal discomfort – that takes courage. Thank you.

  139. Such a powerful story, and unfortunately one that is too familiar to many of us. Things truly can happen in the blink of an eye, no matter how diligent we are. When my daughter Jessica was 4 we were boating on Long Island Sound and tied up with several other friends’ boats. We were all eating and socializing and of course all the kids had on life jackets. Well, Jessica and her cousin Alex were playing on the swim platform and she fell into the water. I saw it happen and even though she had on a life vest, she plunged underwater and swallowed a lot of water. There had to be at least a dozen people around, but I was the only one who saw her fall in. I was able to pull her out of the water but we were both so scared and shaken up. She is 31 years old now and she still remembers this incident. She says she can still remember being terrified, and remembers me pulling her out by her hair (it was the first thing I could grab!). Thankfully both of our stories ended well, and my heart goes out to those whose lives have been changed forever due to a tragedy like this.

  140. Thank you for sharing. I have a pool and my kids are middle aged and I know I get a little too comfortable with letting them swim while I “watch from the window”. You have made me rethink the way I will do things this summer. I am committed to staying out there with them. Thank you for taking the time to share.

  141. Thank you. Even though I am older than you, have more kids than you, and have been a mother longer than you, that does not mean you have not had experiences I have not! I appreciate you being willing to share with me so I can make sure I am doing all I can to keep my family safe too. I remember once I was making cookies with my oldest two, than 3 and 5, and my 3 year old picked up a scoop of flower ( thinking it was sugar), tipped his head back and dumped it in his mouth nose and eyes. He began to choke, but then as the flower got wetter in his mouth he quit making noise, and couldn’t breath. I had NO clue what to do for him. It was like a mouth and throat full of paste. Thankfully my husband was home and was able to help him pretty quick. I can’t tell you how many times I tried sharing this strange and hidden ” choking hazard” with other moms, only to have them look at me like I was crazy, chuckle, shrug there shoulders and dismiss it like it wasn’t that serious of a situation. Like because he was ok, and didn’t die, or have any lasting injury….. It must not have been a dangerous situation after all. I finally gave up. Thank you for sharing your situation so I can be better prepared, informed, and alert to dangers I may never have thought of. I would love to see a cel phone app that moms could subscribe to that would send out daily safety tips and reminders that were activity or age appropriate for our children. Like….parking lot safety , travel/hotel safety, pool, bath tub water safety, even seat belt and food safety for toddlers. It is so easy to get distracted, especially when you are out numbered and just trying to get threw daily activities, and forget to properly secure a chest buckle,lock stroller wheels, cut those 400 grapes in half, or keep powdery kitchen ingredients out of their air-ways! 🙂

  142. Thank you for this post. It was courageous and kind. It brought me to tears to think about you and your experience and your desire to save others. We are thinking about buying a house with a pool, and this does give me pause!

  143. Wow, I thank you for this. I have two 15-year-olds, a 10-year-old and a 6-year-old. The older ones have all gone through water classes but nothing last year. I think I’ll be re-doing safety classes for all of them and buying my youngest a new certified life vest. We spend a week at the beach each summer and I don’t worry as much about the water safety, especially for the older ones. I think this post will help me be more observant and active when we are doing water activities. Thank you for being brave enough to share this. My heart aches for what you and your family experienced.

  144. As a former lifeguard with both numerous pool and ocean saves I can not say enough about the use of any inflatable object as a substitute for an attentive parent or guardian. Whenever I saw a parent put “floaties” on a kids I would tel them if they jump in and have their arms in the air they may slip off their arms. Or the “life-vest inner tubes”, I’d say, if they flip over they may not be able to right themselves and that jacket will actually keep them from exiting the tube. To this day, any pool I’m at I can’t relax when kids are present, even the one in my back yard, I constantly “scan” and focus on potential problems. I have been to the beach and seen kids that are unable to swim using a beach ball as a floatation device. My wife gets upset, but I will tell her to keep a close eye on the kids, I have to watch those kids over there. As an adult I have had to rescue 5 kids who slipped off the ball and go under. Parents, a lifeguard is trained to recognize a drowning but is easily distracted by a scream or stopping horseplay of other pool patrons. If you buy any type of floatation device for a toddler I suggest a Stearns Puddle Jumper. It is Coast Guard approved, VERY comfortable and non constricting. It’s on my 3 year old every time we go out to the pool!

  145. I grew up with a pool in our backyard in Natchitoches. We swam almost every day. Even in the winter. I am a very good swimmer, and I don’t ever remember having a near-drowning experience or anything traumatic happen to me. And yet, I have this insane, paranoid-type fear of the water. I’m ok to be in a pool. I’m not ok when my kids are in a pool. Or lake. Or any type of body of water. I have this horrible fear of one of them drowning. Do we still swim sometimes? Yes. But I make my husband get in the water with them, and I sit on the side of the pool, watching them like a crazy person. I’ve been right there a few times when my kids have slipped under the water at a place in the pool where they thought they could touch, but they couldn’t. I watch them like a hawk… I got my daughter pulled out within seconds of her slipping under… and yet, it could have been so easy for me to be distracted with a book or my phone, and she could have died. My husband was about 5 feet away from her, playing with my son… and he had no idea she had slipped under. It takes one second. I HATE HATE HATE when my kids friends ask them to go swimming. Without me. I grill the mom and make sure that my kid will be watched like a hawk. I remind my kids about the dangers of water and that they must wear their life jackets at all times. And I wait with major anxiety every second until my kids come happily bouncing in the house because they had so much fun at the pool. We are doing MORE swimming lessons this spring and summer… but even with swimming lessons, kids are in danger near the water. One second of panic can lead to something so awful. As you have experienced. Thank you for writing this. I feel ok now to be the psycho mom who rarely takes her kids to the pool because I’m just sure one of them will drown. You have experienced something so traumatic, and you and your son will both be affected by it for the rest of your lives. Thank you for being open and honest and candid. Your words are so important.

  146. PS – I also just have to say that you have the cutest kids on the planet. That picture at the top of your little man on the beach literally makes my heart melt.

  147. I’m so glad your son pulled through but I’m sure it’s hard to get that awful event out of your head. When my youngest son was about 4, he was taking a bath. I was right there, sort of puttering around between the bathroom and the hallway, getting his clothes to wear, towel etc. He loved to put his face in the water and then push back and forth to make waves, I was actually pretty proud that none of my kids were afraid of having their face underwater because it had terrified me as a child, even having my hair rinsed sent me into hysterics.
    I came back in the bathroom after grabbing a few things and he was face down, under the water, not moving so I yelled at him to get up, he didn’t move so I yelled it again even louder. Then I grabbed him by the wrist and he was limp. I was holding his entire body by the wrist and, out of sheer panic, I started jiggling him up and down and screaming his name hysterically. After a few seconds he looked up at me and said “What”. I broke down sobbing and NEVER took my eyes off him in the tub, for even a millisecond after that. I was talking to another mom about it who had a nursing background and she said he was entering unconsciousness and I roused him out of it. I know my reaction was not the correct one but it felt so surreal, panic took over!

    Anyway, that was 16 years ago but it still runs through my head. I cannot even imagine what your experience, and that of moms who’ve lost their children, must be like:( Raising awareness is so important and the number one thing I’ve learned was how silent it can be! Thank you for sharing your story.

  148. Thank you so much for posting this! I needed the reminder to always make sure I’m so careful around water even with my older kids. I’ve always been pretty careful and never let them go with friends without me, but I think I started getting a little too much confidence in my oldest. Anyway, thank you for putting yourself out there! I hope no one is mean! And by-the-way, I’ve always thought Clark was one of the cutest/most handsome kids ever! He is seriously so stinking cute (as well as your other kids–so adorable!)!

  149. Thanks so much for your words, we will be swimming alot this summer in the AZ heat and it is really good to read your post and be reminded that we need to be so careful with our kids and water! Many many thanks!

  150. Thank you for this post. You hit on so many important topics and as we are creeping closer to summer, ANY reminder to parents on these tips, that should be self-explanatory but aren’t, is a good thing.

    Kudos to you. I’m sorry for what your family went through, but I love that you are using your experience for good.

  151. I was a lifeguard for 5 years and the days when the summer camp kids came in to play for a couple hours were often the most stressful. You get a hundred kids in a pool and they go wild and it is so easy for a kid to go unnoticed.

  152. Kate, thank you for being so brave and writing this, I can’t imagine what you have been through. You are so right that everyone needs to wake up about how dangerous swimming situations are. My 19 year old daughter was a playground supervisor a few years ago, and for a field trip, the directors arranged for everyone to get on a bus and go to a local state park, where there was a lake with a beach, but no lifeguards anymore. Two teenaged supervisors and a few volunteer parents would take about 20 kids, as young as 5. And swimming permission slips had been sent home for parents to sign. When my daughter told me this I immediately panicked and said “You cannot allow those kids near the water!” I called the office to complain and try to stop the trip and I told them they were making a BIG mistake, but it did no good. They went on the trip, and my daughter told the kids that even though they had permission, no one was getting in the water. But when she turned her back, the other supervisor and some parents let the kids swim. This was a LAKE, with DARK WATER. I was absolutely sick the whole time they were gone because I was afraid something like that would happen. And when I found out it did happen I was LIVID. How were the adults involved so nonchalant about it?? I just thanked God that nothing bad happened that day.

  153. This post hit home for me in so many ways. I was a lifeguard for several years in high school and college. I actually assisted the most children in the kiddie pool. Many of them were wearing life jackets (which was great!), but small children in life jackets often have trouble keeping their balance in the water. Many would end up face down in the pool, unable to right themselves or get their feet under them to stand up. Parents often were not watching because they felt their children were safe with life jackets on. So please remember to watch children closely even when they have life jackets on.

    I still clearly remember the one older child I had to save. As you say, there was no yelling or thrashing. Not a sound. He was looking up at the surface, eyes wide, hands to his side, kicking with all his might to get his head above the surface. He was so close and just couldn’t do it. After, I went and delivered him to his mother. I don’t know why his mother let him wander the water park alone, but I bet she never did again.

    Kate, my son also had a life threatening experience when he was little. After, I also started to experience the crippling anxiety you describe. I had never had a problem with anxiety before then. It somehow found its way into almost every aspect of my life. As you say, it was rough. I am mostly ok now too, and I’m glad you are as well. At the time, I was a working mother with a very demanding schedule. I think the constant stress I was under also contributed to the situation. Going forward, the experience has been a good reminder for me to keep a close watch on my schedule and adjust it right away when I start to overdo things. Thanks again for a wonderful, heart-felt post.

  154. I’m so glad you posted this. It’s such a great reminder before summer. As a mom with a couple of pretty capable swimmers, I never think twice about focusing on my book or magazine while “watching” my kids at the pool. This article (and your first one, after the incident) has definitely made me think twice. So thank you, you may never know if your words have saved a life because of a reader conciously choosing to be more aware, but I have a feeling your story has certainly had enough of an impact to do that.

  155. Wow. What a powerful post. I truly appreciate the candidness. Thank you for being so passionate about this. Truly, anyone who has experienced a drowning, or near drowning can relate. I will gladly share with anyone I can. It is important people understand the importance of being vigilant. They are our children. There isn’t anything more important than their safety. Thank you so very much!

  156. I’m so glad you got brave enough to write this post. So many important things. First, I am so glad you talked about your PTSD. People dont talk enough about mental illness although it is so very common. Second, your points about swimming safety are so important! We have a pool in our neighborhood and I am always horrified at the parents who send their young children by themselves. I’m convinced one day I’m going to have a rescue a child out of that pool. My son is 8 yrs old and on the swim team, and I still would never leave him at a pool alone. NEVER. My son and his friend were swimming together two years ago and the friend panicked and began clinging to my son who was struggling to keep both heads above water. My husband had to jump in to save them both. Nothing even close to what you experienced, and it traumatized me for a long time. Thank you for promoting water safety!

  157. Well said Kate! I missed yesterday’s post and just now read it. I completely understand where you are coming from as my child had an experience as a 4 yr old where he slipped into the deep end less than 2 feet from me. While it was no where near the horrifying experience you went through, it left him with a deep seated fear of submerging underwater. For 14 years he couldn’t do it. He tried over and over again. Finally last year at the age of 17 he conquered his fear and is swimming. The one thing that really stayed with me was something his amazing instructor said. That he had to address the little 4 yr old still inside who was still going through the trauma of that moment. To overcome it he had to acknowledge that scared little boy and remind him that while it DID happen, it is NOT happening now. That was crucial and it worked. While I still am completely paranoid, and while he is now 18 yrs old and legally an adult I keep a hawk’s eye on him anytime we are near or in the water (we live on Maui). Thanks so much for your brave and very honest post.

  158. Thank you for sharing your story and being honest about the aftermath. I cannot even imagine how your life has been turned upside down. The loss of the sense of security must have been enormous. I really hope people read your blog and take your advice about water safety to heart. We just had this week, what I call, a ‘near miss’. My little guy of 3.5 years was at swim lessons and went under without anybody noticing it. All I saw were two little hands up in the air. I was able to sprint over to him and grab him and he is just fine. But, like you said, plenty of adults within reach of him and nobody around him saw it happen (incl. the life guard and instructor). So, always keep your eyes peeled on the kids. ALWAYS!!!!

  159. Thank you SO VERY MUCH for sharing this post!! I really appreciate it, and I know so many people are going to benefit because of everything that you shared. I’m so very glad that your son was watched over that day, and that he was okay. What a blessing. Thanks again so much for this post and all the good information that I hadn’t even thought of! It makes me feel so much more cautious about my kids being in the water. And I will definitely be more on guard this summer when I take my kids swimming.

  160. I’m sorry for what you went through. I have lost a child (although not to drowning) and it’s been 3 years but it’s still a hard thing to deal with. If you can convince even one parent to pay attention, that would be a great bonus to such a hard post for you to write. I used to work as a lifeguard, and I had to jump in for several kids, and toss a flotation device to another kid. In each case, a parent was nowhere nearby. One girl had jumped off the diving board without being able to swim. She was at the pool with a day camp, and it was impossible for the leaders to keep an eye on so many kids. Another boy just got out too far, and he was at the pool by himself. (Many, many parents just dropped their kids off during the open swim time. Very few even sat along the pool in chairs, and far fewer got in the water with them!) As much as I hate wearing a swimsuit, I am right there in the water with my kiddos!

  161. I have thought a lot about this post since reading it yesterday and it really resonates with me. I just bought Puddle Jumpers for my two small kids to use for swimming (the are certified life vests) and it gives me so much piece of mind to have them. Even still, when we go swimming I stay close and in the water with my kids and am saddened when I see little ones unattended. Thank you for sharing this very important message!

  162. Thank you for sharing this. I have a medically fragile son and I suffer PTSD from small triggers that send me right back to moments of having to resuscitate him. It is terrifying and I am sorry that you have to also live this reality. Thank you for using your experience to spread awareness. I know that I personally have been much more aware of my kids and water since you courageously shared your experience.

  163. Thank you for the courage to write this. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been, I had to build up courage just to read it. I will certainly … without a doubt, be watching more closely now.

  164. Loved this. Water is scary! My girls are 2 and 5 and I have had a few different friends ask if I could take their daughter to the pool with me- one was only a month postpartum and I knew she could really use a break, and that her little 4 year old would love getting out of the house. But when it comes down to it- I am plenty busy watching my own two children at the pool- let alone someone else’s kids! I wish we could do it all, but unfortunately we can’t. Thanks for a great reminder!

  165. We’ll said! My oldest went under once as a toddler when my sister turned her back, lifeguard dive in fully clothed, second time was a raft night when he was 8 and a good swimmer. He went under, we were right there and pulled him out. He shocked himself. The lesson he learned that night is that fatigue and swimming are not a good combination.

  166. Excellent EXCELLENT post!! I fully support saying what needs to be said and not beating around the bush. I have been guilty of insufficiently watching my kids around the pool (talking to friends by the pool rather than REALLY watching every minute) and it makes me feel sick to think what might have happened during my neglect. Thank you for this essential, heartfelt plea to be safe, just in time for summer swimming (which is really very soon for us in AZ!).

  167. Thank you! It’s wonderful that you use your ability to reach a wide audience that you have gained thru being an awesome cook to make the world a better place. Thanks!

  168. Thank you for sharing this. I definitely have room to improve when watching my little kids at the pool. We will be having safer pool time this Summer.

  169. Love this! After years of lifeguarding and teaching swimming lessons, I couldn’t agree more with what you said, especially the part about arm floaties not being safe. I have seen those floaties slip right off kids arms more than once. Thank you for sharing this and hopefully helping a lot of people.

  170. Thank you for having the courage to write this. I read the “Drowning doesn’t look like drowning” article and learned I had NO IDEA what drowning actually can look like. I’ve shared this info with many other people who, like me, thought drowning looks like flailing arms, yelling, etc. You may never know how many people you ultimately save with this experience and your good intentions in sharing with us, but I am so grateful that you did!

  171. I came across your website from a blog I read in which her daughter drowned. I just wanted to THANK YOU for what you’d said in this post. It is EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I am expecting another child early summer and had actually planned on watching from the side with the newborn while my other kids swam. Two things you said spoke right to me and I’ve decided not to do that. I will definitely change my plans so that they will all be safe. Thank you very much. I am glad I was led to this post.

  172. I just wanted to add one more thing, because I see a lot of talk of lifejackets. They are great, but they shouldn’t be used as a replacement for swimming lessons, and kids need to understand that they do not float without them. It seems so obvious to us adults, but a kid who has always worn a lifejacket and therefore always floated might not make the connection. I had a lot of kids in my swimming lessons just let go of the wall because they were impatient and thought they could just float over to that toy on the other wall.

  173. I am so sorry that this happened to you, I know that near drowning experiences can be life changing. I do want to say that it sounds like you still have a long way to go with therapy until you are ok with this event. I urge you to work on it, as your fears can easily become your children’s fears. I have taught swimming lessons for many years, and have had a number of children who are afraid of the water not because they cannot swim, but because their mom or dad fears the water. Being right there in the pool with them is a wonderful, responsible thing to do, but what will you do when they are 13, 14 and getting invited to pool parties? Children not only need to learn to swim proficiently, but need to learn to be confident that they can stay safe and know what to do in an emergency. Finally swimming can be a wonderful sport, many of my lifelong friend have come from swim meets, and I would hate for your children to miss out on swim team or any other water sport because of a long ago accident. You are doing such a brave thing talking about this incident and it sounds like you are really working to get over your fears. This is not meant as a criticism at all, and I hope you dont take it that way, just another point of view that I hope makes you consider things from a different perspective.

  174. Anyone who has ever pulled their child off of the bottom of a pool is changed forever. I don’t think I’ll ever stop having nightmares about it. Thank you for sharing this with so many moms/parents. Thank you for being brave. This is an important message that we all need to hear over and over again.

  175. I appreciated this! Last year my son just turned 3, the minimum age for swim lessons by himself at the city pool. It worked out because I had a 3 month old as well and couldn’t do Tue mommy and me classes with him. On the second day, the kids were playing a pool game and my son, smaller than the others, was bumped, became off balanced, and slipped under water. Being smaller, he couldn’t get his balance and upright himself. The instructors were clueless and didn’t see him. I watched him like a hawk anyway and noticed. I panicked, ran to the end of the pool and yelled his name with my baby in my arms. I was close to jumping in but an awesome mother saw my plight and rushed over and smartly yelled child under water. I couldn’t get anything out but my sons name which didn’t alert the instructors fast enough. My 3 year old sat the rest of the lesson out. He knew what happened bit eventually we did get him back in. He still brings it up and we talk about it and plan on getting him in lessons again. But I too send a warning to parents just sitting there reading their books or dropping off their kids and leaving the lessons expecting their children to be 100% watched. Things can happen there as well.

  176. Kate, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience. Thank you for the reminder about water safety. I know more parents (myself included) will be more fastidious this summer with our kids around water.

  177. Thanks for sharing! I’m not usually one to comment on a blog. Don’t be hard on yourself. I was a near drowning victim in my uncle’s pool when I was 5…and when I read about what you have gone through, I feel bad for my Mom. It was good to get your son back into the water because I took a long time to learn to swim, but I did! Thanks for all the information about water safety.

  178. Thank you for sharing. I needed this reminder. I am now rethinking some of my summer plans with my boys. I am thinking I will have to hire a mothers helper to come to the pool with us this summer because I can’t safely watch and help 3 boys at the same time.

  179. Thanks so much for writing this. I just sent it and the article you referenced to my son, who has a 23 month old, a new baby on the way, and they are at his in-laws, who have a backyard pool. We are arranging to meet to teach our precious granddaughter how to swim. She will know within a few days how to be safe in the water. My Hubs is a great swimming instructor who has taught thousands of infants and toddlers water safety classes. They can be taught to get themselves to safety in a pool. I nearly drowned as a 9 year old, and again at 15 when I was run over by a boat and terribly injured. At 15, however, I had become an expert swimmer and was able to save myself. I saved my 3 year old niece who slipped underwater into a lake unnoticed and I was right next to her, and she didn’t move at all underwater. She was not injured. It truly does not look like anything you have seen on TV or movies. No matter the age of your child, find those water safety classes. Do it this summer, without fail. If you live near a body of water, start looking for classes now. My oldest son once had a girlfriend who lost her daughter in a lake when the child was supposed to be napping and mom was on the phone. She slipped out of the house unseen and drowned while going in the water after a duck. Here in Florida, there are always tragedies in backyard pools every year. Kate, I’m so glad you have recovered from your ordeal. No parent should have to experience what you did, but thank you for bringing this to the attention of so many.

  180. Thank you so much, Kate, for sharing this. I cringe when I think of taking my four kids to the pool alone last summer. This year they will have their vests on unless they are one on one practicing with an adult. Thanks very much.

  181. Bless you and yours with all you’ve been through. Thank you for sharing the hard stuff. It is not in vain. I know I myself am reminded to watch mine closely as we prepare for swimming season.

  182. I have not been through a tragedy like this, but I have been through others. There is such a complicated balance you try to manage between how you SHOULD react, look and feel, how you THINK you look, react and feel and how you REALLY look, react and feel. All of things change constantly and are anything but stagnant. Thank you for having the courage to write about this again – and tell the story differently. My own tragedy has been nearly 10 years and I’m still trying to decide what my story is about it… I am so happy for you that you have your babies with you. They are the most precious thing in the world (I have three of my own!) Thanks for writing with candor and advice… and without fear. Wishing you the best.

  183. I wish you didn’t feel like you have to apologize, but I get it. Good for you for posting it! Here’s another “something” people can do: When you visit a pediatrician for the first time, he or she will almost always ask a bunch of safety-behavior questions: Do you have guns? Do you use seatbelts/safety seats? Given the stats, they should also ask: Do you have a pool? Do you watch your children diligently around water? I lectured my pediatrician for ignoring the stats on drowning. WAY more people take their kids swimming than have guns in the home that children can access.

  184. Thank you for this! I am a mother of five children and taking all five to a pool is nerve racking! Even though my two older kids are teen agers, i am still counting. 1-2-3-4-5….1-2-3-4-5….. Ugh! Not a relaxing day for me. I always get into the pool with my kids. However, that is not always 100 percent safe either. I am also LDS and we believe that we receive promptings from the Holy Ghost. I was at the Lehi pool with my kids one day. I was sitting in the kiddie pool with my three youngest. When my 18 month old ran behind a big rock slide to where I could not see her. I immediately got nervous. Ready to jump up I sat still thinking,”she will come back around.” When all of a sudden I heard a very loud voice in my head firmly say, “Get up!” It did not come from me…. I know in my heart it was the spirit. I jumped up just in time to see her run from the kiddie pool and jump into the lazy river. Within seconds I was in the lazy river pulling her up. It happened so quick I really didn’t have time to think. As I pulled her out of the water I looked up at a life guard that was standing right there with her back to us. She turned around and immediately realized what had just happened. She apologized for not seeing what was going on. Shaken and almost in tears I took my baby back to the kiddie pool where she kept playing like nothing had happened. My point is this. You cant live your life thinking it wont happen to you. Be cautious…very cautious. Be safe and aware. You sometimes only have a second to react. Don’t ignore your motherly instincts. You are that child’s mother. You are here to protect, nurture, and raise them. You know them better than anyone and you know whats best for them.

  185. Good for you for posting this. Who cares what others think and if you are judgy. You may save someone’s life with your words. Glad your little one is ok.

  186. Thank you so much for sharing such tender feelings. My brother is a fireman and just yesterday, he pulled a 19-month-old girl out of a pool who almost drowned – she’s the same age as his son. He wrote on Facebook today, “Remember, children drown without a sound.” My parents have a pool at their house and while kids are not allowed to swim without an adult, there are times that the adults aren’t watching closely. Needless to say, my mom and I discussed tonight some changes we’ll be making this summer when it comes to pool time. Thank you again for courageously opening your heart to us!

  187. Thank you so much for sharing. I will definitely be sharing this with our children so that they will watch over their little’s…they are so precious.

  188. This post totally made my heart hurt for you guys and had me in tears. But THANK YOU for writing it. I can’t imagine the pain you have gone through with this. Sounds absolutely miserable. :(( We need to be reminded of this again and again-because in our day to day lives, we can get overly ‘comfortable’ with actually quite dangerous situations. Interesting how you and someone else in your comments brought up bath tubs-it reminded me that I’m not as careful with them as I should-no, NEED to be! My guys are still little & like you said it doesn’t take long at all!! Around pools & lakes I’m more shaky be uses my husband lost one of his brothers at 21 to drowning (and he was, strong, athletic & a good swimmer!), but like you’re reminding us, pretty much ANY body of water can be dangerous & you have to be on your guard-even if your kids are good swimmers, or you ‘think’ they’ll be fine. It’s so easy to be naive and think “Oh, that would NEVER happen to me or my family…” and yet it CAN. It can happen to literally anyone. So thank you, thank you, thank you for reminding us all of this!!! I will keep you and your family in my prayers. <3

  189. Thanks for sharing this! It is so important. I’m one of those car-seat people. 🙂 As I’m planning for this summer with my first child, who is just 14 months old, I’m thinking so much and making lots of decisions about water and may become a water-safety person, too. Other people (like her aunts and grandparents) are especially casual about safety, I’ve found. It’s been hard to learn to put my foot down about safety in response to these family members who love her so well. I’m still using her baby bathtub in its toddler position because I’m not at all comfortable with her being in the big, slippery tub. I’m researching USCG approved devices for the pool and beach. Where I used to think that those made kids “too dependent,” I’ve changed my mind.

  190. Wonderful post. I used to be a lifeguard, and I missed my first rescue because at 15 I didn’t *really* know what I was looking for. It was a toddler in a splash pool, and her mother got her in time. She was shaken, the mother was shaken, and I was so terrified that I couldn’t go back to work the rest of the summer without getting nauseous before. My pool had 25 other rescues that summer. Eventually I gained the confidence to tell parents about the dangers before anyone even got in the water, but I was shy, and it took a long time to get there. I think people take for granted that the pool is supposed to be a fun and relaxed environment, but I still can’t go to a pool and relax when I know their are children not being supervised appropriately. I’m on edge the entire time. Water safety is of the utmost importance, and a friendly reminder is always welcome. My only criticism is that NO life vest substitutes for supervision. Coast guard approved are for EMERGENCY use only, and while they will stay on and keep you afloat, for a weak swimmer it can hold them face down in the water. My pool had a no floatie policy for this reason, and while it led to many an argument with parents – it was the best rule on the books. Swim safe <3

  191. I freaking love you! I am a stickler about water safety and often get judged for it, I am sure. But who cares? I would rather be too over worried about it anyway. Thanks for this AND the original post. And I am glad to hear you are doing better!

  192. Ever since I read your post I can’t quit thinking about what you and your family have gone through. Please know how sharing your story and baring your soul on what happened has helped so many of us to remember to never get completely comfortable with water activities. I’m so thankful you wrote it, a much needed reminder and eyeful of what can happen and you mentioning to teach our children about this I am so grateful you mentioned, I honestly have never thought about that. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU. Keeping your family in my prayers!

  193. I worked for about 6 years as a lifeguard, in high school and college, and also as a water safety instructor (swim teacher). I can’t count the number of times kids were pulled out of the pool – even broke my heel once jumping in to pull out twins who were struggling in deep water and an older sister who had gone in to help and then all three had sunk to the bottom. Crowded, noisy, and NO ONE else saw what was going on. I remember it – clear as day – to this day still. I remember most of the saves. They are traumatic – even for the lifeguards who aren’t related to those kids. Because of the stuff I saw, and knowing how easy it is for a kid to get into trouble without any warning, I am freakishly paranoid to have my kids around water. I grew up with a backyard pool – I LOVE to swim. But my 2yr old brother fell in and nearly died (they were able to resuscitate him) when I was about 7, and my own 4 yr old daughter went under DURING SWIMMING LESSONS, with an instructor AND a lifeguard within 6 feet of her, and neither noticed. (Truly one of the scariest experiences I have ever had.)

    Please, you cannot be too cautious when it comes to water safety and kids! Drowning happens in seconds. It’s silent. 99% of the time there’s no splashing, no hollering, no yelling. There are usually no warning signs. It is fast, and silent, and deadly. And it honestly is one of the most frightening and traumatic things for anyone to have to go through, especially a parent.

  194. Last summer I took my daughter to an end-of-the-summer pool bash at a family’s house from church. There were several (young) kids in the pool, but somehow all of the women were inside the house and all of them men were hanging out on the patio by the pool. There was no way I was leaving my 5 year old, so I stayed out and watched as she played in the water. Another little girl, also 5, stepped off the edge and into the deep part of the pool over her head. Ten seconds later I was submerged myself, pulling her out of the water. She couldn’t swim, and I still am horrified to think that she could have drowned that day. Like yourself, I was ASTONISHED at how different it was than what I would have expected. Fast. Silent. No noise or thrashing. And I was the ONLY one who saw it, even though there were at least 8 other adults out there. And I cam so grateful that it didn’t end badly. So I applaud you, because having that happen to your child is crazy scary, and it would be absurd to think that it wouldn’t change you in deeply profound ways. I pray that you and your family continue to heal.

  195. Thank you for your faith and courage in sharing your personal and tender thoughts and feelings with us. I have been trying to say these things for years and most parents say that I am being over protective. I would rather be over protective than have an injured child or worse. So I will continue to speak up for my and other children, even teenagers and some adults who can also be vulnerable. I am thankful to your for putting your thoughts, fears, and feelings out for the world to read and I will be sharing this so others can be kept safe, too. Thank you!

  196. Hi Kate,

    First of all, thank you so much for sharing your story. I don’t have children but it really opened my eyes up to the vigilance that’s required around water, any body of water. Your sentence about how even strong swimmers need to be monitored really hit home. I took swimming lessons as a kid and I was always a strong swimmer, but I clearly remember once when I was in elementary school and had a close call in the pool and thought I was going to drown. I completely panicked and it was terrifying. And again, I was a strong swimmer who had always felt comfortable in pools. As a kid I just chalked it up to being weak (“not strong enough to swim out of it”) and blamed it on myself but your post has made me realize that it’s something that can happen to anyone at any time and that adults must pay close attention to kids.

    Reading your post has definitely changed me for the better.

    (and as a side note, the part about grief and anger really resonated with me. I had a miscarriage about 9 months ago and I’ve been feeling a lot of what you wrote about. Thanks for making me feel less alone!)

  197. You don’t know me, but I am a friend of Amy’s. Because of your words, I will not bring a book or phone to the pool this summer unless I am not with my kids. Thank you.

  198. Thank you so much for this necessary reminder of how easily we can become complacent when it comes to our kids and water. I live in Houstona and around here, we live at the pool. I do have a question though. How can we be confident that our kids are okay to not be monitored at the pool at all times? Before reading your post I considered both my 8 and 10 year olds to be independent swimmers and would let them swim without me watching them in the “big pool” (with lifeguards on duty) while I monitored my younger kids in the kiddie pool a few feet away. After reading your post, I feel like maybe I am giving my older kids too much credit (and though I’m sure most lifeguards are good, I think we give them too much credit as well). Obviously at some point they reach a level of ability and maturity to be able to swim without being monitored but I find I am now second guessing myself. As a water-safety person, can you recommend some sort of measure or recommendation as to knowing when they have reached that level? Thanks again for sharing your experience which has helped in opening my eyes. We are all in need of gentle reminders and are here to help each other out. Thank you!

  199. We lost my baby niece last year, for still(and probably always) unknown reasons. I absolutely know what you mean by “grief porn.” In addition to meeting other families who have lost children, my sister and I both have developed an obsession with child-related tragedies.

    It was so helpful reading your story. I always felt this twinge of relief-mixed resentment when I heard “near miss” stories, stories about families who came close to losing a child but didn’t. I always kind of assumed that they just didn’t get it, and couldn’t possibly comprehend what almost happened. I saw it as something totally different from what happened to us or the other bereaved families we’ve met since.

    Reading this, I can see how unfair that attitude is. One thing I’ve learned, or thought I learned after my niece died was not to compare tragedies. Thank you for reminding me once again that that applies always and to everyone Thank you so much for sharing this, and I’m so glad your kiddo is pulling through okay.

  200. I want to send this to my family. We go to a family members pool in the summer and and scared for what I have done in the past. Thanks for bringing to light things that I will change and share.

  201. Thank you. I have felt like such a over protective, fearful mom at the pool but you have given me courage to just keep on doing what I think is best.

  202. After operating a home daycare for 12 years in Florida and closing it , I decided to teach swimming lessons at my home. I had taught all three of my grand children and my own children to swim, and had a few friends who lost children to drowning. Last year I had 8 children this year starting in mid May I have 28. I was amazed at how quickly the children caught on, but was surprised at some of the comments at the price. Do you really put a price on the safety of your 3 or 4 year old? I have a friend that has a big Easter egg hunt and pool party every year. She hires 2 local high school life guards at $10 a hour to watch the children in the pool for 4 hours. She says its the best $80 she could ever spend. Please encourage your readers to find some swim program to enroll their children in this summer. 🙂 Nadine Ochs Tallahassee, Florida

  203. My husband and I are guilty of napping at the beach while our kids play in the water. In the back of my mind I’ve always known this wasn’t a good idea but after reading this post I will never do it again. Thank you for being brave enough to write what we all need to remember. I’m really glad your son survived.

  204. Can’t thank you enough for this post Kate. I’m up way too late looking at blogs but I feel like this was heaven-sent. We have a pool and live in Phoenix, have already been out swimming this spring. I was so vigilant when we first moved here two years ago but I realize now that I have become too comfortable. As the summer approaches and we will find ourselves in the pool every day (because there is NOTHING else one can do outside when it is 115 degrees!) I need to renew my extreme caution with my 4 young kids around the water. I don’t usually comment but I am doing so now in order to commit myself to becoming a water safety nazi. Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you!!

  205. our family had a very similar incident happen just last august, so this hit close to home. I can relate to so many parts of your story. I know what it’s like to see your lifeless child being pulled from the water. I know what it’s like to not know if they are going to live or die. it’s absolutely horrifying, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. and to be honest — i’m SO nervous for summer. I usually love summer. I love days by the pool. but after last summer i don’t know if i’ll be able to every really “relax” by the pool again! water safety is SO important. my eyes have been opened more than ever before. i’m glad someone with such a reach in the blogging world has been able to remind people of this. thank you!

  206. As an emergency room nurse, I was appalled when my husband’s job re-located us to a community where irrigation ditches (not fenced) ran throughout the town. I was determined that, as soon as they were old enough, my children would learn to swim. At our city pool the parents were relegated to a Plexiglas enclosed balcony for observation, and weren’t allowed on deck until the lesson was over. Near the end of one lesson, I waved to my 4 year old daughter and headed down the stairs and through the dressing room to meet her on deck.

  207. (Sorry, I accidentally hit a wrong key.) When I stepped out on deck, no one was in the water and dozens of children were standing around. Then, I saw what they were looking at: my daughter being resuscitated. Apparently, her instructor lost track of her, and a lifeguard on deck saw her face down on the bottom of the pool. Thankfully, my daughter recovered fine, I truly aged several decades in that very brief period of time, and I realized how very quickly tragedy could strike. May you never, never, experience the horror.

  208. After reading this, I decided to add a note on swimming at the beach. Please pay attention to warnings about undertows and rip currents! They are extremely dangerous, no matter how strong a swimmer you are. I was a strong swimmer by the time I was about 10, because my mom was determined we would know how to swim well. I was also experienced in swimming at the Jersey shore. Keep in mind, that place is crazy crowded during the summer. I went out to where I was about up to my neck, not new for me, but this day there was a strong undertow, and imperceptibly it pulled me out farther with each wave bounce until I could no longer reach the bottom. At that point I started swimming toward the shore — but I couldn’t make any progress and kept getting pulled outwards. Thankfully, the Spirit must have told me to swim diagonally, in the direction down the beach that it was also pulling me, and I did for a long time. I managed to touch the bottom again when I was almost exhausted, but it was still a struggle to get all the way to shore. I walked at least a half mile back to where my family was sitting on the beach — that’s how far down the beach it took me.
    I still love the beach and ocean and vacation there often, but you can bet I pay attention to any swim warnings. If a flag warning say swimming is dangerous, believe it! Even for adults. It will pull you out, no matter how strong you are. Look for “good swimming beaches” and make sure you and your family members don’t go out any farther than you can stand on the bottom at all times, unless you’re absolutely sure there is no undertow or rip current.

  209. As someone who lifeguarded for 3 years in high school, and a survivor of a near drowning as a kid, I understand how quickly drowning can happen anf how casual we can become about water safety. I am that mom that if my kids are within touching distance of water at the beach and I cant be right next to thwy you better bet they havr their uncomfortable life jackets on. Uncomfortable often means safe (think seatbelts, carseats, internet filters, child locks etc). Thank you for using your platform to remind us all of what water, that can and should be fun can really mean if we arent diligent.

  210. Thanks for making me rethink leaving my three kids to swim in the community center pool while I go upstairs and work out. My kids can all swim, and there is a life guard . . . but . . . the pool is pretty crowded and stuff happens. Thanks for the reminder.

  211. Thank you for speaking up and for the reminders! I have forced myself to read things like this every spring gearing up toward summer so that I will be SUPER careful with my children around water. A few years ago I had my 18-month old unable to pull her mouth and nose out of the water right in front of my eyes – she was on hands and knees – and didn’t realize the seriousness of the situation until the lifeguard splashed over to where I was sitting, right by her, in the shallow, 1-ft-deep water. It’s no joke, and water safety is SO important. Thank you again for being willing to share your experience – it will bless lives!

  212. To be honest I had no idea that drowning doesn’t look like what it does on t.v. Thank you so much for sharing this important information, and such a scary experience! I hope you and your family continue to get better after this experience!

  213. Thank you thank you thank you for this raw and real discription of what a drowning is actually like. I am a pediatric flight nurse at children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado and I have seen too many near dronwings and children who don’t recover from drowning to mentally handle. I am so happy your son recovered and is healthy and doing ok. I was the first adult of about 12 to notice my 3yr old nephew under water (frantically paddling) and grabbed him out coughing and spluttering – all the while counting my blessings that he was actually coughing and spluttering. He is fine and is in one on one swimming lessons now thankfully. Thank you for sharing such an important message. Continue your good work. Best, Kat.

  214. Thank you for sharing this. I’m so sorry you have experienced such a terrible thing. I hear you and while not nearly as close as you came, my sister pulled my son out of the pool last July 4th. There were 20 adults standing right there, we just didn’t see him. He just got up from the chair, got in the pool, stepped off the last step and silently went under water. He couldn’t get his head above the water line. Thank God, he is fine and although all of us were traumatized, it was a happy ending. I too and flashbacks and guilt and felt horribly angry. I put him into swimming lessons with his sister the next week. Chastising myself viciously.

    Apparently I didn’t learn though. He got into trouble again a month ago, got out of his depth again. This time I was on him in seconds but I feel SO ANGRY with myself again. He is now in private swimming lessons so I know he is getting one-on-one instruction. I have promised myself I will NEVER let him near the pool without my own eyes on him every second.

    I just wanted to say, I hear you. Everything you say is absolutely correct. Unfortunately, until you experience this awful, totally preventable thing, you don’t truly get it. Keep spreading the word, keep being emphatic, keep insisting. You are making a difference. A big, supportive, be strong sister hug from me to you. xxxx

  215. Thank you for sharing this. I’m so sorry you have experienced such a terrible thing. I hear you and while not nearly as close as you came, my sister pulled my son out of the pool last July 4th. There were 20 adults standing right there, we just didn’t see him. He just got up from the chair, got in the pool, stepped off the last step and silently went under water. He couldn’t get his head above the water line. Thank God, he is fine and although all of us were traumatized, it was a happy ending. I too and flashbacks and guilt and felt horribly angry. I put him into swimming lessons with his sister the next week. Chastising myself viciously.

    Apparently I didn’t learn though. He got into trouble again a month ago, got out of his depth again. This time I was on him in seconds but I feel SO ANGRY with myself again. He is now in private swimming lessons so I know he is getting one-on-one instruction. I have promised myself I will NEVER let him near the pool without my own eyes on him every second.

    I just wanted to say, I hear you. Everything you say is absolutely correct. Unfortunately, until you experience this awful, totally preventable thing, you don’t truly get it. Keep spreading the word, keep being emphatic, keep insisting. You are making a difference. A big, supportive, be strong sister hug from me to you. xxxx

    Here is the link to the post I wrote about it on my site. Very similar. http://thankgodforwine.com/?s=in+plain+sight

  216. So thankful you posted this. I have the luxury of never experiencing this but only by sheer luck. I have one child, and have always been paranoid about taking other people’s children with me to pools, lakes, etc. (they felt, the more the merrier, but I always felt overwhelmed by the responsibility of my own to monitor others). I am a freak scaredy cat about water b/c of my mom, as my second oldest brother (of 5) almost drowned in the midst of 10 plus adults and kids in a lake. Don’t let anyone keep you from sending this very important message. Everyone is vulnerable even with the most vigilant parents. Thank you for educating those who have not had to learn your difficult lessons. So glad your son is okay. Take care,

  217. Thank you, thank you for posting this! You have validated everything I have always felt when it comes to my children and water safety, but I have always felt like others looked at me (one significant other especially), as an overbearing “prude”. My parents raised me not to be afraid of the water, but to be cautious, smart, and aware. I don’t trust the water. And I don’t trust my kids around/in water. We swim in it, we play in it- but I will no longer feel afraid or like I don’t have a voice to do my job as a parent in doing the best I can to keep them safe.

  218. My 9 year old son nearly drowned yesterday. I was right next to him. I had just told him to stand by me and take a break to catch his breath and let his muscles rest. I looked away for maybe 10 seconds. When I looked back, he had swam 10 feet away from me, was only about 1.5 feet from the edge of the pool, but his head, with the exception of the very top of it, was underwater and bobbing up and down. As I launched myself towards him, I saw that he was clawing at the water around him, but it wasn’t helping at all. I scooped him up and put him on the edge of the pool while standing behind him, holding him up so he wouldn’t submerge again. He coughed and gagged and threw up tons of water, and then started sobbing. He told me that he thought he really was going to die.

    I never heard him swim away from me. I never heard him splash. He never made a single sound. He is alive only because I looked for him soon enough to save him.

    I haven’t slept at all since. It’s now 6am and I’ve checked on him about every 15 minutes through the night. I can NOT stop replaying this in my head.

    I almost lost my son. I almost lost my son. I almost lost my son.

  219. Very good article. I had a bad scare years ago at the beach. My oldest son and I were bodyboarding in the water….which was VERY busy…lots of people. My youngest was playing in the water edge with his friend and that mom watching them. My son and I were floating….then before I knew it, I couldnt touch the bottom. I am not a strong swimmer…especially in the ocean. I was caught in a riptide right in the middle of dozens of people. My son was just a little more than an arms length away when I realized. I couldnt swim out of it, and my son was still floating alone basically. I just prayed he stayed on the board! I wasnt worried about me, I knew a sandbar was coming (saw the people), and lifeguards were not far. But he was only 6 .or 7….. It took me a long time to get over that intense fear, and I still have fear of the ocean. But I can know at least let them in the water again.

  220. I’m like you Kate, I’m a people pleaser. I think the things I wish I had the nerve to say to people and have a hard time delegating and asking for help. I’ve also been there with the grief porn. Almost 14 months ago my then 18 month old son was diagnosed with cancer. I spent hours (probably what would accumulate to days or even weeks) reading and researching (and getting all the knowledge I could because I was too chicken to tell family members to leave me the heck alone and do some research themselves… people pleaser). I haven’t had your experience but I know the heartache and almost confusion after the fact for feeling the heartache when your child is still alive (my little man is now happy, healthy, and in remission). I guess i just wanted to show you support and in the wise words of Taylor Swift… haters gonna hate.

  221. I got chills reading this, because it takes me back to an old, old memory I’d almost put out of my mind.

    When I was four, I almost drowned. Except I didn’t know I almost drowned–not really, not until reading these posts. I’m not a parent yet, but after reading what you’ve written, I will for darn sure never be out of reach of my children in water once I am. The next paragraph could be triggering for you, I want to say, so it’s ok by me if you skip it! I want to share it for others, though.

    I remember it happened so fast. My mom was in the water talking to another person, and her back was turned, and I had one of those blue kickboard things. I didn’t know how to swim yet, but I was practicing, and the kickboard kept me afloat. I thought it’d be fun to jump into the water holding the kickboard–I liked jumping from the side, and I didn’t think I needed my mom to catch me if I had the kickboard. I yelled “Mommy, look!” and jumped, and the kickboard shot out of my hands when I hit the water. It was only four feet deep, but I was only three and a half feet tall.

    She hadn’t turned to look. Just one of those times you’re just a little irritated because your kid has been yelling “Mommy, look!” all day and you’re trying to have an adult conversation for two seconds and–I don’t blame her a bit.

    I remember I felt like I was upside down and struggling with all my might. There were bubble everywhere and I couldn’t see. I couldn’t tell which way was up. I remember thinking, “I am going to die.” It felt like I was under the water for a long, long time, and I held my breath the whole time, but I guess it was only a few seconds before someone else pointed at me and my mom turned around and grabbed me and lifted me up out of the water. She was less than five feet away. She told me later I was standing stock-still on the bottom of the pool with my arms straight out on either side of me–which I now understand is textbook instinctive drowning response.

    I didn’t understand why she was freaking out, why she started teaching me in earnest how to swim after that day. But I really, really almost drowned. If someone hadn’t noticed me–if everyone had thought I was just playing–if my mom had been distracted for just thirty seconds longer–if I hadn’t taken a big breath and had inhaled water–oh my god.

    I was that smart, careful child who could be trusted not to play with fire, not to stick a fork in a socket, not to do anything dangerous. I knew basic first aid even by the age of four. I understood kitchen safety. I always looked both ways before I crossed the street. I did not go anywhere with strangers. My parents taught me all kinds of safety skills and I followed ALL of them. It’s just, no one could have foreseen that they needed to say, “Hey, don’t jump into the water holding a flotation device, because it could slip out of your hands.”

    She never took her eyes off me in the pool after that. I still like swimming, and I’m decent at it, but I really don’t like water that’s over my head, or water that’s dark or muddy. I have done my share of swimming in lakes and rivers, and I *can* swim in deep, dark water, but it makes me very anxious and I can’t do it for long. I am far too aware that no one could see me if I went under.

    Two years ago I did a dumb thing as an adult that I will never do again: I jumped off a railroad bridge into an unfamiliar river. I thought that swimming in Missouri’s Elk River had prepared me for swimming in Michigan’s Huron, and a dozen other people were jumping, so I didn’t see a problem. Only the Huron is bigger, deeper, and most importantly, *so much faster.* I jumped a little too far out on the bridge and missed the sweet spot where it was still easy to swim back to shore, and I got pulled quite a ways downstream before I could make it out. Even though I was keeping my head above water just fine, I was just on the verge of being too tired when I finally hit shallow water. I am still really freaked out by that. If I’d hit my head on the (big, sharp, terrifying) rocks in the river, if I’d gotten too tired any faster, if my fiancé hadn’t been in the water with me, if I’d jumped even *further* out, if the current had been any stronger…one more thing going wrong and I could have died just because I felt like showing off.

    Long story short, I think I’ve finally learned my lesson: water is nice and all, but you can’t let your guard down for yourself or anyone else.

    And now I’m going to take some deep breaths because my heart is pounding. Whew.

  222. I have been getting recipes from your site for many years, but this is the first time I have come across this post. Just this morning I was contemplating with my older boys about taking them to the pool this summer and dropping them off. I do not believe this was a coincidence finding your post today. Thank you for being brave and sharing your story, even years later, you have made an impact on me and my family’s safety.

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