Welcome back friends! I hope you’ve been enjoying reading these blog posts as much as I’ve loved writing them. The water has always been my serenity and writing about these topics every month adds even more joy to my every day. Teaching your children is the best part of my week and I’ve found a second home here at Floaties. I appreciate you all taking the time out of your busy days to read these monthly topics and I couldn’t be more thankful with the feedback I’ve received. Now, with all that said, let’s “March” into this months’ topic which is Overcoming Water Trauma in Kids and Adults.
This month we are definitely focusing on a more serious topic. And I’ll also be discussing the swim scares that have happened to me and how I got through them. Although this may not be the most light-hearted of topics, it is definitely an important one to address.
A scare in the water is never a fun experience for anyone at any age. No matter how minor or major the incident is, it can stick with an individual for a long time if not handled correctly.
At Floaties, safety is behind everything we teach. On every stage of the progression line, safety drills/exercises are incorporated every step of the way. While accidents can never be 100% prevented, knowing what to do during a water scare is what can prevent trauma from occurring.
Remember in January’s blog when I wrote that even the most nervous individual can learn how to swim? Well, even the most experienced swimmer can fall victim to a water scare. I have personally had two pool-related incidents happen to me throughout my life.
Now, I want to emphasize that both of my incidents happened at pools that I had been swimming at regularly for years prior. Yes, familiarity with your surroundings is extremely beneficial, but in some circumstances, won’t 100% eliminate incidents from happening. Sometimes life just happens and when an accident does occur, that’s when knowledge and preparedness come into play.
Second, what helped me move past these swimming scares was knowing how to get myself back to safety. And equally important was how the moments immediately following the incidents were handled. The moments following an accidental water scare are crucial in how the individual processes, accepts and recovers from the situation.
My first swim scare happened when I was about five years old at my neighbors’ pool. I was treading water in the mid-section of the pool which was about 4-5 feet deep and my mom was watching me from the jacuzzi area, about ten feet away. My neighbor’s dog, Sparky, was swimming toward the shallow end and accidentally swam over me. His paws pushed me down and I was unexpectedly submerged.
In this moment I remembered what my mom had taught me. If I’m ever at the bottom, I can push off of the floor with my feet and it will push me back up to the surface. I did just that and when I surfaced, my mom was there and took me over to the stairs at the shallow end.
I remember being very shaken up for the first few minutes on those stairs because until then, I had never had a scare in the water. The pool was the place I was the most comfortable and confident. So having this happen was very overwhelming for me emotionally because I just never expected it to happen.
What my mom did in the moments following this was crucial in me not developing any long-lasting trauma. First off, my mother was very calm and reassured me that I did exactly what she taught me to do if I ever got unexpectedly submerged. Knowing how to re-surface myself prevented any kind of drowning-related occurrences from taking place. Also, my mom was persistent in getting me back in the water after it happened. This helped me not develop any lasting anticipation, stress or fear of getting back into the water in the future.
At Floaties we take the same approach with minor swim scares. Let’s say for example, I have a child in my class who reaches a little too far forward for a toy that’s floating in front of them, and slips off the bench, submerging themselves for a couple of seconds. After getting them back to the bench and establishing that they are okay, I would take them for a turn to practice front floats, submarines, and safety circles to make sure that they know what to do if it ever happens again, and also to eliminate any anxiety following the accident. This also refreshes the importance of safety to the child during swim lessons.
Now, when we think of water-related incidents, we typically picture a child right? Well believe it or not, my second water scare happened in my early 20’s. And just like the first story, I had been to this pool regularly for years prior to this incident taking place. In fact, I worked there.
Throughout my college years I worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor at a pool on a local military base. On this particular day, we were doing our monthly “in-service training”. A day where we all get together and do mock-saving drills and review any/all material needed to maintain our certifications. At the moment of the incident, it was my turn to portray a drowning victim so another lifeguard could practice the proper way to access, approach and save the victim. I was in the fifteen-foot-deep end, pretending to drown (bobbing up and down, going in and out of submersion). As my head broke the surface, I had a wave of water go over me unexpectedly. My airway got completely full of water and for the first time in the pool, I panicked. What started as a mock-save soon became an actual need for help.
I’ll admit, it was something that I was able to laugh off right away and I think that’s because of all the knowledge, trust and confidence I already had in myself, but also in the people I was surrounded by. I had complete trust in my co-workers and knew that I was safe.
To conclude, getting your child enrolled in swim lessons is most effective approach to get them water safe. While accidents are never 100% preventable, Floaties provides a safe, controlled environment where your child is with an experienced instructor who makes safety the top priority of each swim lesson. Learning how to swim while also learning how to be water safe is the best way to “waterproof” your kids.
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