Parents' warning after infant nearly drowns during swimming lesson
A CHEDDAR toddler’s parents are warning others to watch their children swimming, after their son nearly drowned during a pre-school swimming lesson at Kings Fitness & Leisure Centre.
The infant was one of four children attending the first pre-school swimming lesson of the year in the first week of September, when an incident happened which allegedly almost cost him his life.
The boy, aged three and a half, had finished his turn with the instructor in the shallow end of the pool and was helped to the side.
The lifeguard, who watched the other three children while the instructor focuses on each child in turn, was standing by the pool looking down at the infants.
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The parents, who wish to remain anonymous, were sitting having a coffee in the viewing gallery next to the pool, separated by a glass divider.
When the parents turned their attention back to the pool, they saw their son face down in the water.
His father said: “I looked up and he was face down in the water and just floating, completely still.
“At first I thought, ‘oh he’s got his face in the water’ like he’d been taught earlier with the instructor.
“I just watched as his arms and legs sagged.
“It just seemed to be an eternity, it was probably just eight or nine seconds, but it went from ‘oh look his face is in the water’ to ‘he’s not moving’ to ‘is the lifeguard not going to do anything?’"
The father and his wife immediately jumped up from their chairs, fearing the lifeguard had not noticed what had happened.
He said: “My wife started hammering on the door and I tried to open the door but it was locked.”
The boy’s father ran round through the changing rooms, by which time the lifeguard had pulled him out of the water, coughing and spluttering.
The next day, the father went to meet with the manager of the leisure centre, Lucie Harrison, to discuss the incident.
He said: “Lucie came out, we sat down and she said all the right things, that it’s being taken very seriously and that she’d spoken to everybody.
“I told her I am not here to demand anybody loses their job - the most important thing is that this never happens again.
“We’ve all heard the stories about being understaffed and cutting of wages, but to what detriment?
“It was just lucky it wasn't any worse.”
The father said he was reassured that monthly refresher training would be implemented.
He said: “I have concerns about the amount of time the lifeguards are on duty in the pool before rotating, because it gets hot and they are sat round doing nothing and they could switch off.”
A spokeswoman for Kings Fitness and Leisure said: “The child got into difficulty and the lifeguard on duty took immediate and prompt action to remove the child safely from the swimming pool.
“A staff member subsequently spoke to the father of the child, and was assured that his son had not suffered any adverse effects from the incident and indeed, the child is continuing with his swimming lessons at the centre.
“The centre responded in writing to an email from the mother of the child, in which they reiterated their assurances that the Centre had acted entirely responsibly in this situation and did not consider it appropriate to agree to the mother’s request for a free complimentary gold family membership for 12 months.
The father said: “We had suggested they might wish to provide membership for a period in order for us to ensure we could spend time as a family rebuilding his confidence around the water, as he is now very tentative about putting his face near the water, whereas he was not before this incident.”