Bode’s tragedy and summer safety

It was a schoolmate’s birthday pool party.

I was sitting on a lawn chair enjoying the sunshine.

The kids were splashing in the pool as the parents mingled and made small talk.

Something about my personality is drawn toward children, so I gravitated to the pool where the children were playing.  I also wanted to oversee my son to make sure he didn’t splash too aggressively or bother the other children too much.

I would spend a few minutes looking at my new iPhone and randomly glance up at the kids whenever it got too loud or too quiet.

Most of the kids were about 6 years old and able to swim.  A few of the younger ones had swimmies on to help them float.  Everyone looked capable.

But still, I glanced up randomly.

And then I saw him.

A boy who appeared to be about 4 years old was stuck under an inflatable raft.  Instead of simply bobbing out to the side, he kept trying to hug the float from underneath.  He was submerged and drowning.

There was no violent splashing or cries for help.  Looking back, it was barely noticeable.

In an instant I leaped from my chair and jumped into the pool.  I flipped over the float and grabbed the boy under the arm and brought him to the surface.  He coughed and coughed but never cried.

The parents who were mingling now gathered around the pool and the drowning boy’s parents stepped forward to gather him.  I heard each one say, “I thought he was with you”.

The grateful homeowner thanked me profusely and offered me a towel.

I felt like a schmuck as I sat back in my chair, soaking wet for the rest of the party.

Some thought I over-reacted.  And that’s fine by me because the boy is alive.

When I read about the tragedy of Bode Miller and his family’s loss of their child due to drowning, I remembered my story with vivid detail.  There are some who will blame, question, and accuse.  I can tell you first hand that drowning can happen to anyone, anytime, and anywhere there is water.  It is a silent killer.

Fast forward 10 years.  As I have become more involved in the world of aquatics due to my son’s career in competitive swimming, I completed lifeguard certification at the age of 45.  It is a fitting ending to a story that began almost 10 years ago.


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