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Life In General

The Stupid Thing I Did When My Son Almost Drowned

I’ve run in front of a moving Mack truck and I’ve climbed ladders.  I have a well-developed search pattern technique and I have more than a passing familiarity with the Poison Control Hotline people.  

All for the sake of my son.

But none of his exploits were quite as scary as the time he was so close to drowning and I couldn’t save him.

We were at our friends’ house, enjoying the warm weather and splashing in their pool.  Our 3 children and their 4 have known each other almost since they were born, and they all look like siblings.  I was in the pool with the kids, while the father of the other 4 children sat on the deck.  My husband and his wife were inside the house figuring out some computer issues, and all was well.

My kids have never taken swimming lessons.  The oldest has taught himself, and the other two are still working on it.  They  wear life jackets or use floaties if the water is too deep.

For whatever reason, my death-defying son got into the deep end without any of that.  Or maybe his floatie got away from him.  Whatever it was, I was in the shallow end with my daughter when I saw him start to struggle.

the stupid thing i did

He’s a bit of a panicky kid, so when I saw him start to flail, I knew I better get him to the side before things got worse.  I asked him a few times if he was alright, and he didn’t say much, so I moved over to where he was.  Hitting the start of slope that signaled the deep end, I pushed off with one foot and swam to where he was.

Grabbing his arm, I thought I’d guide him over to the edge of the pool, and the crisis would be averted.  I was talking in my best “this is no big deal” voice, hoping to calm him down enough to dog paddle to the edge.

Instead, he pushed me down.  He grabbed on to me like a drowning man.

The water began closing over my head, and I couldn’t speak.  I could feel him grasping at me, as if he wanted me to carry him.  He was 12 years old, as tall as me.  He wasn’t thinking straight.  He was in panic mode.

I struggled underwater, trying to push against the water itself and somehow move towards the edge or at least up to the surface.

I heard a voice calling my name, asking if I was alright, but I couldn’t answer.  My head was underwater.  When the surface did break, I took the opportunity to breathe and fill my lungs before going back under.  It seemed like forever.

I strategized.  I thought, if I let him push me to the floor of the pool, he can stand in my arms.  He’ll be able to keep his head above water, he’ll be able to breathe.   I wouldn’t last long, but at least he’d have a chance to make it to the side.

Through the water in my ears, I heard a sudden, loud splash behind me, and felt the weight of my son being pulled off me.  I reached and swam and was probably pulled over to the edge, water burning in my eyes and my throat.

I sat there for awhile.  My son was scared but fine.

I, on the other hand, realized that I had screwed up.  Big time.

If another adult hadn’t been there, this story would have a very different ending.

I should not have gone after my son.  I should not have tried to pull or carry him through the water.

I should have grabbed a life jacket, a pool noodle, or a kick board, and handed it to him.  I should have helped him put his weight on something else, so that he could keep his head above water.  Then I could have pulled him, on the floatie, to the edge of the pool.

I’ll do it differently next time.  I thought I could help him myself.  I always think I can do things all on my own.  I couldn’t.  I needed something or someone else.  There’s a reason lifeguards carry those buoys.

Now I have a plan, if something like this were to ever happen again.  Grab a flotation device, put it in front of the child and guide their arms to it if necessary.  Then, pull them to safety.  Drowning doesn’t happen the way you think it will.

What’s your plan?  What would you do if it happened on your watch?


Article written by:

Megan is a WAHM to 3 (and then some) kids, who spends the majority of her time working as an Administrative Assistant, blogging and washing dishes. She loves to write about her adventures in parenting, running a home daycare, adoption and whatever else strikes her fancy!


  1. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)

    That is so scary. I can’t swim, so I don’t let them swim unless my husband or a lifeguard is on duty because I would never be able to save my kids.

  2. Rosey

    My 7yr old recently went too far out, just a bit, and I jumped in…pants, shoes, and all to get him. He’s light-weight and little. I could see how it could have been different w/a 12yr old, and I am glad I read this, just in case! Happy to you had a happy ending.

  3. Alli

    I probably would have done the same thing. I’ve never had to try and save someone from drowning. All of my kids and grandkids are great swimmers, but we all need to know the proper way to save someone. Thanks!
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  4. Miranda (myrabev)

    That must have been so scary for you and glad you are both OK. I don’t know what I would have done
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  5. Valerie

    this is such a great reminder because I think when it comes to our kids, it’s very easy for panic mode to set in and our training goes out the window! I’m glad everyone is okay!
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  6. Jeska

    My son has been taking swimming lessons since he was 2 but he is a bit of a frantic child too. He’s about to be 6 but I could see the same thing happening to me. I wouldn’t have even thought about the fact that he could have pushed me under. So scary!
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  7. Fi Ní Neachtáin

    Oh you poor thing, what an absolutely terrifying experience. We as parents always just want to rush in and help our little ones when they’re in distress, we don’t even have time to think but I applaud your bravery.

  8. Liz Mays

    Wow that’s a scary incident. It would be hard to go against instinct and pick up a floatation device in a situation like that.
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  9. Lovely

    In my case I would have done the same thing. Even worse I can’t swim! I said the i should really learn how to swim before i have children being that I live in South Florida.
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  10. Carmen Perez (listen2mama)

    Oh my, how terrifying. Thank goodness my daughter learned how to swim when she was 3. Living in Miami it’s a real necessity! Thank goodness everything turned out OK.
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  11. celebbabylaundry

    That sounds insanely terrifying! I can’t even imagine what was going through your mind at that time.
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  12. Tanj from A Travelogue

    Happy to know you are safe and sound. It sounds really really scary. Thank god you guys are okay.

  13. Angelic Sinova

    That is so scary! I’m so glad everything turned out okay. Thankfully things worked out and if it ever happens again (knock on wood that it won’t) you’ll know what to do.
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  14. Erin

    That sounds terrifying. We took swimming lessons growing up and they always talked about the dangers of jumping in after a drowning person. As much as common sense says to do otherwise, the initial reaction a person has when they see someone else drowning is to go save them. I’m glad there was someone there to help you.
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  15. Joanne T Ferguson

    Oh my goodness, I am almost beyond words about how scary this would have been for your son and you! I am glad everything worked out and it only emphasizes the importance of swimming lessons for children!
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  16. CourtneyLynne

    Omg honestly I probably would of did something g just as similar…. How scarey for something like that too happen!

  17. ricci

    I was a lifeguard for a couple summers and the first we were taught was how to deflect someone who tries to grab onto you. That’s someones first instinct, to grab onto something/someone and get to the water’s surface but in reality they could drown you too so we learned to push them away and then get them something to hold onto and then grab them from behind and pull them to safety. I’m glad your son is ok. I am a HUGE supporter of swim lessons for everyone, no matter their age.
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  18. Modern Pilgrim

    Wow. I didn’t know that this could happen with a 12 year old. I guess kids of all ages really do need adult supervision in the pool 100% of the time.

  19. HilLesha

    Honestly, I probably would have had done the same thing without much thought. Many of us don’t think of the perfect solution in situations like this. 🙁
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  20. Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen

    That was really scary. I don’t know how to swim, that’s why I made sure my daughter had swimming lessons.
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