‘It could happen to anyone’: Local families say infant swimming lessons saved their kids’ lives

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – As we near the first day of summer, local families are sharing their experiences with drowning and the lessons their kids learned to save themselves.

Experts said it can happen when we least expect it and often times, it happens when a child is not even in a swimming environment.

But, with the techniques taught in Infant Swim Resource Lessons (ISR), many babies have helped save their own lives.

In December of 2017, now 3-year-old Kason got out with his dogs. His family frantically searched everywhere for him.

It was his cousin who got a feeling that he needed to go check the pond in the backyard.

“He went to the pond and he searched all the edges of the pond and he found Kason,” said Karen Reed, grandmother. “He was face down in the pond.”

After 20 minutes of CPR, paramedics were able to get a pulse, but that pulse was lost on the way to the hospital.

Kason survived, though and decorations sit near the pond where it all happened in his grandparents’ backyard. They said it’s a reminder that faith is stronger than fear.

“It could happen to anyone,” said Reed.

After days in the hospital and multiple tests to check for brain damage, Kason’s doctor came in and said one simple sentence that will forever stay in the mind of his grandmother.

“He said, ‘there’s no brain damage,’ said Reed. “He shrugged his shoulders and smiled.”

Reed still gets emotional when she recalls what happened. She said before the accident, Kason went to infant swimming lessons for about seven months. She credits what he learned in those lessons to him still being here today.

“He could have quite possibly done some of his swimming and floating skills,” said Reed.

Dozens of children throughout the Wichita area are getting the same type of swim lessons through ISR.

“Even if you’re not doing it for swimming purposes, you don’t ever know,” said Brandi Wyre, mother of twins. “When you turn your back, it doesn’t take long for them to be in the water.”

“It brings such confidence knowing that your child has the skills they need to survive if something were to happen unexpectedly,” said Loni Griffin, mother.

For Griffin, that something did happen. Several weeks ago, her nearly two-year-old son, Sawyer fell into their pool.

“He was laying on his tummy with his chin at the edge, splashing,” said Griffin. “I think he just leaned a little too far and slid right in. He knew exactly what to do and it was really awesome to see him just not even be bothered by any of it.”

All of that from skills he learned from his lessons.

Something all of these families have in common is the person who taught their kids those survival skills; Emily McVay, Wichita Swim School director.

“Once they can roll over and sit up independently, they can learn life-saving skills and be able to roll over and float and save themselves,” said McVay. “The reality is it’s there right in front of us and it’s the number one killer.”

Experts and parents are working together to help save the lives of children.

“It does take some work,” said McVay. “But, I think we can change the statistics and not have to have a family deal with the pain of losing a child.”

Private and ISR lessons are available through the Wichita Swim Club, YMCA, Hall Swim School and other places in Wichita.

There are also programs available through some schools and are based on financial status.

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