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Street Smart is not Pool smart -Flash Non-Fiction

A True story

A tropical hotel with a pool and a family on holiday.  

Mum’s reliant on seven-year-old Meeva, to watch younger sister, Jenny, as they play.  It’s their custom back home.

With Meeva’s help, two-year-old Jenny takes her soft toys for a swim. As Meeva swims laps, Jenny silently slips to the bottom. A minute passes before Meeva realises, and alerts her parents. Mum runs screaming while Dad drags Jenny’s lifeless body out. After pumping her chest, he gives Jenny mouth-to-mouth. With a choke and a splutter, she is revived.

Drowning – the silent killer.

A NON-FICTION story of 100 words for Rochelle’s Fictioneers photo prompt.

{photo by Rochelle}

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66 thoughts on “Street Smart is not Pool smart -Flash Non-Fiction”

    1. I was horrified to hear this story from the Mother of these two girls, given that my daughter had befriended them and the gate at the back of our property led into our swimming pool. These two girls roamed around the streets unsupervised and I worried they would access our pool.

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      1. That is a terrifying situation. Even locking your back gate wouldn’t keep some kids from climbing over. There are laws about fences right around the pool in some areas. Unless they are alarmed, they still won’t keep all children safe.

        Having a pool is a wonderful thing. I would really love to have one. I hope you never have children accessing your pool without your knowledge and consent.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. We don’t have a swimming pool any longer, Zazzy so I don’t have to stress. The fencing laws here are super strict and before long may include rat walls as kids could dig under a fence….. that is how extreme the attitude is, but to be fair, we have had a lot of kids drown over the years. An alarm on the gate is useful, as long as the Mum is not wearing headphones….

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          1. Yes, and as long as someone is home and if neighbors don’t treat the alarm like a car alarm or a burglar alarm. It’s a shame that you can’t have a pool without that risk. A friend of mine lost two grandchildren, 6 and 7, who were supposedly good swimmers. They died in an unsupervised apartment complex pool.

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            1. Oh my goodness. That is terrible that two children were lost in a pool in an apartment complex. It can happen so easily with young children. They would have been watched like a hawk in my pool.

              Liked by 1 person

    1. It was both a worrying story and one that gave me relief to hear she was okay. The worry was that my child had befriended the older sister who had her younger one tagging along and I was petrified they would access our pool without my knowing. Thankfully, they didn’t.

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  1. That is a very powerful story, Amanda. I came close several times to drowning as a child and during those same years, pulled more than one other to safety when the lifeguards were even unaware of what was happening. We did a lot of public pool swimming as children and the caution was truly never enough. I don’t enjoy swimming anymore but made sure my children were well trained for it, just in case. We never had our own pool.

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    1. I am glad you were vigilant of others in trouble at public pools, Marlene and that your children learnt to swim.
      I kind of miss the heydays of the public pools. It was such a community, convivial atmosphere for primary aged children. In my day, I don’t recall any lifeguards watching us but there were adults at the entry gate. I do recall once diving in at the shallow-er end of the public pool and hitting the bottom of the pool with my nose. I was swimming with a friend at the time and I think we were there on our own without adults. Lucky I didn’t sustain a broken neck and managed to swim to the surface, albeit a little stunned! Having a pool of one’s own can be a double-edged sword as I will discuss in the next post.

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    1. Scary incident, Cindy and I was terrified of that little girl entering our yard and swimming unsupervised in our pool. It was probably the only time I discouraged my daughter from a friendship with the neighbour’s children.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. If there is a child around water, my eyes are only for them if no other adult is watching them. Over the years, I’ve fished out three kids before they needed to be revived. Most recent was in September in the USA. Dad was on the phone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh that is frightening, Peggy. You sound like me and I have seen the phone distraction cause incidents like this at resorts. No doubt all the hard work creating awareness of pool safety has been undone. No pool fence can protect against ignorance and idiocy.

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  3. As a paediatric nurse who has cared for many ‘immersions’ I feel strongly about this. It is not a child’s responsibility to be supervising a sibling. Parents need to be watching closely. We now see many children who’s parent was at the poolside but was too busy on their phone to be watching the children. Another lesson is that a fence does not always stop a determined child. They use all sorts of things to climb or open the gate. Some of these children are lucky and are successfully resuscitated but others are left with permanent and life altering disability and then of course there are those who do not survive.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well said, Kathy. I suspected that the stats on pool drownings have escalated due to Mums checking smartphones at the pool side or even in the home while kids were in the pool. I despair that they would take a child’s safety so lightly. I was the Nazi pool Mum but no kid ever drowned in my pool.

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    1. Thank you, James! Truth is often scarier than fiction! You are absolutely right that garden ponds are a danger to a child too. Water features were quite popular here last decade and I wonder how many of those would have been a risk to children.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Glad there was a “happy” ending! From the little I know on the subject drowning is not someone splashing and screaming like on TV, but what you describe, silently slipping beneath the surface.

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    1. Especially I think with young children and if the water is cool, I believe it paralyses the breathing muscles even if they could somehow get to the surface. When I have had a child visit who stated they could swim – and actually couldn’t – the child sank to the bottom of the pool like a stone. Of course, we were right there and fished him straight out. Jenny was lucky her Father resuscitated her.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I was limited to 100 words as it was a flash fiction exercise so I am glad you felt the tension even though I had to be ultra succinct in telling the story. Thank you, Keith.

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  5. Amanda, thanks for sharing a story with a good ending that needs to be heard. It only takes a few seconds to drown. Kids who say they can swim because they don’t want others to know they can’t wander into deeper waters. Parents think more people are watching the kids when they are not or get distracted. Keith

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    1. You are absolutely correct in the parent’s and children’s assumption. In a later comment, I speak of a little boy who visited and stated he could swim but sank straight to the bottom like a stone when he jumped in. Luckily, we were right there and rescued him. I am only glad that my kids grew up in the era before smartphones. We were hyper-vigilant but how were we to know if our kids were properly supervised at a play date at someone else’s house and were supervised by a parent looking at a smartphone paying minimal attention. They could swim but until they were confident in the water I told people they couldn’t swim so that they would be watched.

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  6. I am glad the story had a happy ending, but so often it doesn’t. “Drowning” is, as you mentioned, a silent killer. Here in the US it finally got awareness, many black people never learned how to swim when they were children. Finally, older ones got up and shed light on it. Now most swim halls offer adult swimming classes and they are full.

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    1. That is amazing that adult swim classes are full and that folks are keen to learn. So good to hear people are keen to skill up and learn. I am assuming that Australia would have amongst the highest rates of adult swimmers but I really don’t know.

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    1. Thanks so much Brenda – for your visit and thoughtful comment. The Mum was from an islander family where the older sibling looking after the younger ones was quite common. To her, it would have been natural but not for us. It was lucky the Dad knew how to resuscitate the little one.

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  7. Such a close thing, glad it had a happy ending. We had a tragedy on a frozen lake in this country this week, six little boys perished. It can happen so quickly, and all in pursuit of excitement.

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    1. Oh no, Sandra. To lose six young boys in a frozen lake is utterly tragic. I feel for those families. For them, Christmas will always be raw and heart-breaking. Did they fall through the ice?

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  8. My immediate reaction here is that it’s unfair & frankly irresponsible for an adult to give a 7 year old child responsibility to watch a 2yr old in a pool. I’m glad that the ending was happy but what if it wasn’t? Can you imagine how that 7 year old would feel.

    When I was growing up in the tropics, I always thought pools were the height of luxury. Better than air conditioning! I was lucky to go to a school which had a pool and made swimming mandatory. Later in Canada, when I became a parent, it was always a priority for the kids to learn how to swim.

    However, as a first home buyer, I always viewed backyard pools as a liability. I remember that first dream house which was ideal in price, location and layout. But it had a pool and all I could think about was my baby toddling into the pool and drowning. Ulitmately, we passed it up. No regrets.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sandy, (I miss our blog conversations!). You are right, by our standards, letting a seven year old supervise a younger child is irresponsible, but we are talking about a Mum who was raising her child the way she was raised. That may be more appropriate in a communal village situation in the islands, but not so in residential suburban Australia. That was her mistake. It was so fortunate that the Dad was there fast enough.
      I understand what you are saying about a pool – although it wasn’t a hallmark of luxury here in my childhood. Mind you, the pools were in most instances, fairly rudimentary. But as the years progressed and the popularity of pools increased, the prices for inground pool became more affordable.
      And good on you for getting your kids swimming lessons. Ironically, I had a Canadian exchange student come to stay and she was a swimmer, raced in competitions – but this was in an indoor pool in Canada! Something almost unseen here, except in a hotel. All pools are outdoors.
      Now that we are semi-retired and moved to the peninsula area, like you we viewed having a pool as a liability, but only in terms of maintenance. When the kids were small, it was a blessing, but I was the pool Nazi and never took my eyes off them for a second.
      I note now that pools are not the ten metre item we used to have – they are lap pool, small and narrow, or a plunge pool that is useless for swimming in. The house blocks are small and there is no room for a large pool. They seem pointless other than as a way to cool down. And even then, the houses are air conditioned, so why? Status symbols?

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      1. Sorry that I’ve been remiss in convo’s. I’ve stepped back from photo blogging and these days, it takes me longer to read, write & post. I think it’s the same with you? We both seem to be posting less frequently & with different themes. Next year may be time for a refresh!

        Hope you all set for the holidays – Christmas BBQs and seafood! I remember and envy you as I read about a major winter storm heading my way.

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        1. If only it was just a Christmas BBQ – I have a Danish Christmas feast on Dec 24, so have to prep for that. I am not a host but I have to contribute. The M.o.t.h. doesn’t eat salad so a hot lunch is also required on Dec 25….. groan… but I take the salad option and the seafood option so we have to have both!
          All good for being offline. I do understand and can relate. When I writing for the magazine and school, I feel like all my words are gone and want to step away from the keyboard. Now that I have a short break – before writing up another two articles, I feel the urge to blog. Next year I will have a Dining and Recycling column as well as articles……What is your plan for next year? More animation?

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          1. I’ll probably do more anecdotal than pictoral posts but we’ll see. One thing for sure, I will not be kicking off the year with those blooming Bloganuary posts 🙂
            Have a good Christmas Amanda & do share what makes up a Danish Christmas feast.

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            1. Alright. If you say so, I will write up a post on a very Danish Xmas. Looking forward to reading more anecdotes. They are the best. It makes a great start of a diary/journal/ short story anthology if you wanted to make it so.

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  9. So scary! I grew up in Phoenix, AZ where most people had pools in their backyard. I grew up on the swim team and took my safety badges and courses. One day at our house, when I was a kid some age before 6th grade, there was a party of some sort with lots of family gathered. I don’t remember much about it other than that one little kid was riding a big wheel near the pool and went in accidentally. I saw him start to go under, come up and go under again and was stuck a minute, amazed that none of the parents or adults were paying attention. I jumped in and pulled him out. He was fine. Still no one had noticed. I don’t remember much more than that but that part of the day made quite an impression on me. It wasn’t much later when the city started passing laws where people’s pools had to be enclosed with a safety fence. Drowning was very sadly quite common.

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    1. Just as well you were vigilant. It must have been a sobering reminder for the parents of the little child that went under, once they realized. You were so young but still very responsible around water. It can happen so very fast and at large gatherings too, when everyone is busy. Children are particularly vulnerable. Our state in Australia now has very strict pool fencing laws. Even a spa pool or garden pond needs to be fenced. There is some dispute about dams on farms so there are still children who drown in them when they wander off. The residential pool fencing laws are an absolute pain for the homeowners as you have to factor in the neighbours boundary fencing as well. Children can climb over a neighbouring fence. The only sure way to protect children is to fence the pool inside the fence, and adult supervision. Without that, there will be accidents, one way or another.

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  10. It can so easily happen. While I was in the garden, my youngest was playing by the pool. I had my eye on him but at one point, I was looking down and I heard the faintest “ploop”. I almost didn’t look up but thankfully did. I bounded, dove and got him, before he even got a mouthful but man… scared the living daylights out of me.

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    1. That’s a frightening account and I am glad to hear you acted on your instincts and cut checked on your son. You are so right that it can easily happen swimming pools warrant vigilance.

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        1. Indeed. Good point, Dale. You can be swimming in the pool with children and it can happen. Especially at public pools, with lifeguards. You just need to have eyes in the back of one’s head when it comes to children in pools.

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    1. Thank you, Rochelle and you are so right it happens so fast. There is no substitute for adult supervision. An eagle eye on kids in pools saves lives. It is a big issue in the warmer climate and the strict pool fencing laws and councils checking compliance is sadly necessary.

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