By Nadine Bubeck
When one of my sons had a near drowning experience, it changed me forever. I am still scared—in fact, years later, this is the first time I’m publicly talking about it. Adults were outside and I was literally getting his floaties from my garage. And it all happened so fast.
After that, I turned to someone my friends raved about—Tracy Richards, a swimming instructor at Village Health Club and Spa for over eight years. Tracy had my son swimming in a week. “Miss Tracy” has been teaching swimming for over 40 years and has worked with beginners to collegiate athletes.
Tracy believes that people don’t often consider near drownings that happens all too frequently, where lives are changed forever for everyone involved. “All too frequently, people are willing to trade their child’s safety for aesthetics,” she says. “And too often, drownings occur during swim parties where a lot of people are around, and no one is really focused on the pool. Drownings in backyard pools are 100% preventable, and that is a shocking statistic.”
It is never too early to start your child in swimming—even young babies can get acclimated to being in the water and floating around. However, Tracy recommends starting formal swim lessons by at least 18 months if not sooner. She also notes that no one is ever water safe; she has a fence around her own pool.
Tracy and other swim experts encourage families to embrace the A-B-C approach to ensure a safe swim atmosphere:
A—AWARE: Be aware of who is in the pool and aware of their swimming ability. Assign someone to be aware of your pool and who is in it.
B—BARRIER: Use a gate, net, fence, or wall to place a barrier between the pool and people.
C—CLASSES: Make sure everyone knows how to swim and learn CPR.
And while you may think kids remember things every year, it’s always a good refresher to give younger children a backyard “pool tour,” reminding them where the steps are and how to “monkey walk” (walking along the wall with your hands) around the pool. Also, if you have a dog, whether they swim or not, you should take them in the pool and show them where the steps are. Dogs cannot get out of the pool from the side, so they need to know how to get out if they fall or if they jump in. Pet drowning is a real thing as well.
Nadine Bubeck is a former news anchor turned all things mama. She is a TV parenting/lifestyle/travel contributor, author, influencer, and blessed boy mom times three. See nadinebubeck.com and Instagram @mamaandmyboys for more info. Her eldest, Nicholas, is CEO of creationsbynicholas.com.