A Cautionary Summer Tale

I’m the mom who always goes in the pool with my kids. I’m terrified of having a pool tragedy, especially since my son can’t swim (despite three years of lessons). So, when we go to our neighborhood pool, I never bring a book, and am almost always either in the pool or sitting just a few steps away.

My concern has always been for my child who can’t swim, not the one who can.

My daughter is like a little fish. She can swim underwater, and in the deep end. She dives off the diving board. Just last week, her swim instructor told me that she’s a very strong swimmer – her arms and legs are all muscular.

It didn’t matter.

Like many moms on Facebook, I read the Slate story in June about How Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning (haven’t read it? Go right ahead. I’ll wait). I filed the information away, hoping I’d never need it.

I needed it.

Recently, we were at a hotel pool early in the day. My children were the only ones in the water as my husband and I sat on chairs by the side of the pool and watched. As usual, my daughter was swimming all around the pool, and my son was clinging to a kick board. My daughter started bobbing in the pool, right at the 4ft mark. Up, down, up, down. They do that all of the time in swim class so I wasn’t alarmed.

Until she coughed twice. I asked if she was okay, and she didn’t respond. I ran over to the side of the pool, and put my arm in to grab her. She took it, and came out of the pool. Once she was out, she started sobbing.

Apparently, her goggles got fogged up and she thought she was in the 3ft shallow end. So when she went to stand, she got water in her mouth and nose. She couldn’t breathe and told me that she couldn’t ask for help because she was too busy trying to breathe.

This ended okay for us, because we were lucky. But I’ll never again assume that a child who can swim is okay in the water.


  1. says

    My daughter is a strong swimmer too, And like you I’m adamant about keeping an eye on both kids when they’re in the water. Thank you for the reminder that even a strong swimmer requires supervision.

  2. says

    We just had something happen this week with b in the pool in Mexico. We were right there but he slipped and couldn’t get up. He got a mouth full of water and was under for a couple seconds. So scared! So glad your daughter is ok and great post. Everyone needs to be careful around water even if they can swim.

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