One-year-old Christiano is one of several toddlers taking survival swimming lessons with Allison Laney. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Allison Laney teaching Christiano how to swim. (Photo source: WLOX News)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drownings are the leading cause of injury and death for children ages one to 14. One way to prevent a tragedy in the water is by teaching your children life-saving skills.
One mother told us her son didn't have those skills when he almost drowned in a Gulfport pool. Erica McPeters' son, Carter, was only 3 years old when her husband rescued him from the bottom of a pool.
"To see my child come out of a pool completely purple, I don't wish that on anyone. Like not knowing if he was going to be OK or not, that was hands down the worst experience of parenting we've ever had," McPeters said.
McPeters and 10 others were sitting around the pool at the time. Still, she said there was no warning that her son went under.
"There was not one word. Not one splash, nothing," McPeters recalled.
McPeters immediately enrolled Carter into Allison Laney's MS Gulf Coast's Lil' Shrimps Swim Academy, where instructors teach children survival swimming.
"A lot of swim lessons will teach the kids how to use floaties or floatation devices. Our kids are swimming alone. Like, we don't use any floatation. We spend 24 days teaching them what they need to do. When it's done, they swim. Whether they’re 6 months or 5 years old, they swim," said Laney.
Laney said floaties give children the illusion that they know how to swim.
Kayla Reddell remembers how prepared her 3-year-old was when she fell into a pool. She said it was all thanks to Laney’s lessons.
"She knew what to do. She knew how to save herself, how to buy herself time for us to get her out of the pool," said Reddell.
Christiano, 1, has been taking lessons for just a few weeks.
"He knows how to float, and he's doing excellent. I'm really happy with the results that I get," said Christiano's mom, Jennifer Davi.
"Kids do not thrash up and down and bob up and down screaming for help. When a child drowns, they go in pretty silently, usually around someone who loves them. They try to stand up, and they press their hands downward as if they are trying to push themselves up, and they tend to be looking in an upward position," said Laney.
The MS Gulf Coast Lil' Shrimps Swim Academy teaches children as early as six months to adults. They teach children what to do in a number of scenarios, including falling off a boat or strong waves. The academy is raising money to start a nonprofit to teach lessons to families in need.