Thursday, July 24, 2003

Waving, Not Drowning

Three years ago, my son was visiting one of neighbors who had a pool. It wasn't a huge pool, but did have a shallow (4ft) end and a deeper (7ft) end. The kids were jumping into the pool splashing around and having a good time sitting in the inflatable inner tubes. About the time we were ready to leave and walk home, my son (who was six at the time) wanted to go over to the deeper end, which was partitioned off by a floating barrier line. He had been telling us over and over how good a swimmer he was (never having been in a swimming pool that deep before that day), and as he is want to do, did not listen to my "advice" and started to float over there. As he manuevered under the line, he slipped out of the tube and went straight to the bottom.

There are times in a parents life when time slows to a crawl -- this was one of them. He dropped straight down, hit the bottom and bounced straight back up. The look of abject fear in his eyes when he broke the surface scared the hell out of me. As it happened, I was standing right next to the pool, I leaned over stuck my hand down into the water just before he started down again -- my hand slipped down his arm, finally grabbing by the wrist, then I pulled him out in one big motion. After spitting out the lungful of water he had inhaled and coughing for 30 seconds, he began to shake and shiver like it was 30 degrees below zero outside. He knew just how close he had come. He never bragged again about what a good swimmer he was.

So, over the last three summers we have taken the kids to swimming classes at KSU (we also have a big lake -- mentioned below -- about 80 feet from the back door). Even if it's not really learning how to swim, as much as it is learning not to drown, it was important for both of them to learn. Today we finished a two month program for both my son and daughter -- congratulations to both of them for completing the class -- my son in particular worked very hard this time out, passing onto the next level and my daughter for getting comfortable in the water -- it was a long, but rewarding two months for all of us...

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