Scary pool moment

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Registered: 09-13-2006
Scary pool moment
Thu, 06-24-2010 - 1:56pm

Yesterday, Nathan really wanted to go to the pool, and David finally said he'd give it a try. He's 12 now, and hasn't been in a pool since he was about five or six. Nathan's been teaching himself to swim, and doing just fine in the 3 ft pool. (We've got one of those homeowner association things, with two pools for residents/guests.)

I wasn't able to get in, because, since I keep getting fatter by the minute, I never seem to have a swimsuit that fits.

I thought he'd be fine, because it's so shallow. Still, I knew to keep my eye on him at all times, just because, well, I know David. Nathan was trying to teach him to use the float, but he couldn't get the hang of it. So he was mostly trying to walk in the water, but he kept losing his balance.

I was watching him go out into the middle of the pool (all only 3 ft deep), and all of a sudden he put his head under water. That surprised me, because it seemed a bit daring for him. He came up a second later and tried, unsuccessfully, to wipe his hair out of his eyes, then went back under. He started turning onto his back and onto his belly, over and over, with his face in the water. He looked like a 12 year old horsing around, but I could tell something was wrong. He was thrashing about, but never seemed to be put his face out of the water and get any air. (Writing this, it sounds like I was just sitting there observing this for ten minutes. It was probably not even ten seconds total.)

I was sitting cross-legged on the edge, so I just jumped in and walked to him, and helped him up. He had lost his footing, panicked, and then not been able to find the bottom or know which was is up. He had swallowed a bunch of water and I guess breathed in just enough to scare him a lot.)

We got out and sat for a while. He was alright, but that experience really scared him. I told him later that because he's on the autistic spectrum, he qualifies for the special one-on-one swimming lesson, whereas most kids would have to do the group thing. He seemed to think that was a good idea "if I ever plan on getting in the water again, which is NOT going to happen."

I told him not to think of that experience as a defeat. I mean, he got in the water in the first place, which was pretty major. But it really scared him. I think he may have also felt a bit embarrassed, although even though there were lots of people in the water, none of them noticed. No one even noticed me jumping in with my regular clothes and running shoes.

It seems like the older he gets, the more he has these experiences where he's not able to do the things that his peers (and kids much younger) do. It makes me feel sad for him.

Once we got home and dried off, it began to really sink in that he could have drowned. I had occasionally thought it would be neat if we had a neighbor or friend who would take the boys to the pool while I go grocery shopping or something. How dangerous can a 3 ft deep pool be for a 12 year old? But anyone besides myself or dh would not know David enough to know that they can't take their eyes off him for a second.

Anyway, if any of you have kids who are water-shy, don't assume they'll be fine in shallow water.


Avatar for ribrit
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2001
Fri, 06-25-2010 - 9:30pm
My children have always stayed in swim lessons, well, always. They never have been in the pool without me present. Even with my children who have no special needs, they were closer to 4 or 5 before I would leave them for even a minute. I just knew of too many cases where the caregiver turned for "just a second" only to find the child drowning when they turned back. I am sooo glad you kept a good eye on him!
Avatar for Cmmelissa
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-13-2008
Fri, 06-25-2010 - 3:55pm
Big (((HUGS))) Evelyn, that sounds so terrifying.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-25-2003
Thu, 06-24-2010 - 8:53pm

Oh wow! that does sound like terrifying experience! Thank goodness y ou are so vigilant.

I do agree with trying to get him into some kind of learn to swim program. If the outdoor one won't suit, check local community centers ad places like Easter Seals.

Also, for sun protection, you can get boys swim shirts at Old Navy or Target. That way you only have face and limbs to sunscreen


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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-08-2009
Thu, 06-24-2010 - 8:24pm

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-2006
Thu, 06-24-2010 - 6:52pm

Yeah, I'm okay. It was actually quite reassuring to know that I was able to just get in and help him, and to deal with it calmly.

There are a few problems with the special needs swimming lessons. For one, the sign up for this year is over. Also, it's expensive and held during the sunniest time of day, so I'd have to somehow get sunscreen on him. He's got his dad's celtic coloring, so that would be a must, and goopy stuff on the skin is a major stress inducer. Also, the class is put on by the city's park and recs department, and it's kind of a generic "special needs" kind of thing. I'm not entirely confident that it wouldn't be taught by an inexperienced 18 year old, and it might turn out to be a small group instead of one-on-one. I'll have to check in to it next year.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-07-2008
Thu, 06-24-2010 - 5:48pm

OMG how utterly terrifying!!!

I would seriously get the 1-1 swimming lessons. Not just because it'll teach him to swim, but also because otherwise I think he'll get 'stuck' in the memory of how scary that was and he'll never be able to have fun in the pool again.

Are YOU ok? you must have been pretty scared and shaken up.


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