A Scary Swimming Lesson

pool ring 2

I remember there was an article circulating on Facebook last summer about secondary drowning. It scared the crap out of me. My daughter, Maddie, is in her second summer at camp and they have free swim twice a week. She’s been in lessons since she was young because I want to make sure she not only possesses the right skills, but more importantly feels confident in the water. I’m a worrier and drowning happens to be one of the key concerns at the top of my list. That—and choking—among many other things. There is no logical explanation other than that these are very common activities, and thus the risk of something happening is greater. And when you put a lot of kids together in a pool with a few lifeguards I worry about what could happen.

So when Maddie was swim tested last week and got a yellow band I wasn’t that upset. It restricts where she can go in the pool and I thought, good. I also thought good, I’m so glad I’ve been paying for swimming lessons for god knows how long. But Maddie said she got a yellow instead of green because she was scared to jump in the deep end. That seemed logical. Today was one of her free swim days and I happened to call my husband this afternoon with a question. Before I said hello he wanted to know if I talked to her camp. I had not. Apparently they just called him because there was an “incident” at the pool. Maddie went under and had to be pulled out by a counselor. As I understand it she got tired from treading water and called for help before she went down.

My heart literally. stopped. beating.

He reassured me that she was fine—good enough to eat a Popsicle. But in my world all was not fine. It’s like my nightmare came true. I’m so grateful there was someone nearby and that she came to her aid. The site director claims Maddie was only under for seconds, but she swallowed water and must have been in long enough that it scared her. Because she was crying and wouldn’t go back in the water.

The secondary drowning article came to mind. I immediately Googled the symptoms and would not feel reassured until she was checked out by a doctor. Fortunately my husband was working nearby and didn’t have any meetings this afternoon so he took her to our pediatrician. She’s fine—her chest and lungs sounded clear. I’m sure people will think I’m crazy. I think I’m crazy. To be honest I don’t think I would have taken her in had it not been for that article. I would have thought, she was pulled out and she’s fine. But it said 1-2% of cases wind up with a fatality, and that’s one too many. I was not about to take that risk. So yes, I’m crazy. Crazy about my kids and I would do anything for them.

I chalk it up to another year, another incident at camp. You may recall she got lost on the first day last year. So hopefully that’s it for this summer. I do feel better having had the doctor confirm that she’s OK. So now I can rest easy. Until Thursday, when she’s back in the pool. Even though I’ll never stop worrying, I’m not going to let that stop her from swimming.

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