Swimming is a lifesaver
By ED SOUTHORN
EVERY parent's worst swimming pool nightmare almost came true for Amanda Hession.
But the Tweed Heads mum ended up elated and grateful her infant son James, 2, had been taught to swim.
The little fella was standing on the edge of his family's backyard pool while sister Tahlia, 6, played with a friend in the water.
James threw a plastic swim ring into the pool, then promptly fell in after it.
The water was about two metres deep.
Luckily, Mrs Hession was standing on the other side of the pool about four metres away, watching the children.
She knew she could rush to James' aid if necessary.
But she wanted to check if his swimming lessons ? once a week at Club Banora's Oasis pool complex for the past 18 months ? would help her son save his own life.
"He's got no fear of the water, but he also likes to float," said Mrs Hession, whose husband Paul is a pharmacist at Murwillumbah.
"So I wondered if he would just float and start sinking to the bottom. I was shocked when he started swimming. He turned around and got to the side of the pool and then climbed out."
James freestyled and kicked his way to safety.
"I went over to him and praised him for swimming over to the side of the pool.
"But I also told him that's what can happen when you get too close to the edge."
Mrs Hession said the Tweed climate and the popularity of backyard and public pools meant it was absolutely vital for all children to learn to swim at an early age.
"Kids are near the water every day, so there is always the risk of drowning if they cannot swim."
James' swimming teacher at the Oasis pool, Lee Bailey, said she got goose bumps when she heard how James had swum to safety.
"It's so important, a matter of life and death, that every child learns to swim," Mrs Bailey said.
"Too many parents just put floaties on the kids and let them go in the water."