Armbands On, is a campaign Gail has started to encourage parents to make sure their child or children who are non-swimmers or weak swimmers wear armbands on when going family swimming and when they are on holiday. It is very simple Gail explains, these may not be official statistics however my statement is inspired from factual incidents during my lifetime career as a swimming teacher and lifeguard,
"I cannot remember a time when I pulled a child out of the water who was starting to drown who wore armbands. All my more serious rescues have been saving children who had no armbands on. So they certainly help"
A recent incident came from one of Gail's customers who called to book in swimming lessons for their daughter. Their little four-year-old girl was standing behind them in a swimming pool where she could stand up, they also had their 18-month-old baby with them. As the daughter's mother passed over the baby to her husband and had a quick conversation about the baby, their little four years old fell over into the swimming pool and could not get back up, she was starting to drown, right by the side of her parents. They were distracted, they didn't see their daughter drowning. This is a situation Gail has heard of many times and seen similar events where parents get distracted.
If a child can just about manage a scrambled doggy paddle for a few meters, or the way they move in the water trying to swim doggy paddle is in a vertical position and their face is just above the water, this is not really swimming safely or swimming a style in my opinion, however, this is described as a 'weak swimmer.'
Gail has many calls from families who will say to Gail, 'Oh, he/she just needs that little push, he/she is just about to start swimming.' This is so, so far from the fact. Gail's version of 'swimming' is being able to perform a controlled and comfortable breaststroke, backstroke or front crawl. These pupils when they arrive for their first swimming lesson have no idea of any style. Gail tries to soften the blow and asks, 'Does he/she look like they have lost five pounds in the swimming pool?' 'Yes,' is always the answer.
A new inquiry came in recently and the parent told Gail, 'My little one can just about swim a couple of meters in the shallow end, I kept telling him to go in the deep end, but he refuses?' This is a statement Gail has heard a few times. Gail advises that their little one is correct, if he/she cannot swim well in shallow water forcing or encouraging them to swim in deep water is not safe. He's right, the parent is wrong.
Lastly, another shocking story. Gail was teaching when a couple around 70 to 80 years old entered the poolside fully dressed with their 2 1/2 to 3-year-old granddaughter. They picked up one of Gail's woggles and put it across her chest then dumped her into the swimming pool and pushed her away from the edge where she headed for the deepest section of the pool, not even Gail could stand up there. This child could not stand up in any part of the swimming pool.
Another fairly common incident is where a child is in the shallow end of a swimming pool and insists they want to take their armbands off and swim. So the adult lets them, some children go straight underwater and they stay there as quite often the adult just freezes and stares at them and they don't have the skills to get back up. Gail has snapped the parent out of the daze to pick up the child.
Gail hopes parents with non-swimmers or weak swimmers decide to put armbands on their child from her campaign.
Stay safe, don't take risks and enjoy swimming!