"You’re calling long distance. Do you know that I live 12 miles east of Columbia, and you’d lose a half-day each time you drove Margaret from Boonville to our farm for a swimming class?"
"That doesn’t matter. Margaret’s already 2 years old, and she can’t swim."
Two! I refused to teach tiny children to love something as hazardous as unaccompanied swimming. She slammed the receiver down when I compared unsupervised swimming to a child’s crossing of a busy street alone.
In a long-ago survey of several hundred pediatricians in this country and Canada, there was almost unanimous agreement that "swimming classes for children should be delayed until near the child’s fourth birthday."
I heard another say, "Wait until you’d let the child cross a busy street without holding your hand."
Swimming teachers and pediatricians recognize the dangers in bragging about a little swimmer by saying, "He’s a good swimmer" or "It’s hard to keep her out of the water."
First-time parents must be ready to recover a child from possible life-threatening situations and ready to restore natural breathing, if breathing should stop. This is essential when little children play near an empty swimming pool.
A foreign student who spent more than a month at our farm with us many years ago suffered as she wrote this terrible message: "We have had a tragedy in our family. Two sisters were playing in the yard and also looking after their younger brother. When he went missing, adults found him, but it was too late. He had been playing in a corner of an out-of-season, ‘dry’ swimming pool. Rain had accumulated in a puddle in a corner, and there was enough water to claim their little brother’s life."
The American Red Cross had, in 1966, a record of the names of more than two thousand people I had taught, tested and certified as qualified Senior Life Guards; there were many more before my retirement from Columbia College in 1972.
I still study reports of drowning accidents with the thought, "What might I have done to prevent that loss of life?"
In drowning, there are only three minutes to work beyond the victim’s last natural inhalation, if the victim is to experience full recovery. Three minutes! Don’t waste those precious minutes by making a phone call for help! Keep yourself ready to do artificial respiration.
That is my message to parents of little children. If you swim, add lifesaving to your skill. If you’re an old life guard or trainee, practice your skills. If you are a self-taught swimmer, add lifesaving to what you know from scouts, first aid CPR and current literature.
Nothing you can give your infant could be as important as to enroll for your own refresher training course in first aid and life saving. Update your previous knowledge or start from scratch with training related to drowning and artificial respiration. Start by calling the American Red Cross or parks and recreation office in your city or county today.