Man, every weekend now it seems like I read about a new rash of accidental drownings all over Ontario. I just looked it up and actually accidental drowning is down year-over-year, but still, maybe I am aware of it because my kids are constantly in the water, like noticing pregnant women when you are pregnant (not me!) or smokers when you trying to quit smoking (who me?). In any case, it’s tragic and, especially in the case of children, seems there is a lack of education on how dangerous water can be.
When we were camping on Lake Huron last weekend, the wind picked up on our last day and provided an ocean-like atmosphere along the shore and in the water. Three foot swells provided ample opportunities for our boys to try and boogie board along the curls and wash.
All I need is some tasty waves, a cool buzz and I’m fine:
And with the swells, the undertow picked up and easily toppled Tasman, if not an off balance Hudson as the careening waves kept crashing in. It was not that deep, three, four feet tops, but we were stringent in keeping a watchful eye on our surf dudes and they were instructed to keep it tight to our umbrella and soccer mom chairs neatly arranged on the beach.
At the cottage, it’s about eight feet deep off the end of the dock and about 25 feet to the swim platform closer to a massive rock (called The Shoal). Tasman, a born swimmer spends more time in the water than anyone else.
He is constantly looking for a partner in wet crime to jump in lake with, to climb on the windsurfer board with, to swim to The Shoal with, so his swimming confidence is sky high. Which of course means nothing to us. We watch his massive for six year-old frame as he tries to swim underwater from dock to raft. I scan the splishes and splashes of the four or five kids playing with an overturned canoe or the king of the mountain games on the platform. All it takes is one distracted moment, one quick visit to the boathouse to grab a beer before one of them could hit their head and slip underwater. So our eyes remain stoic, the tail risk is simply too high.
My wife was the pool rat and lifeguard growing up. She is a much stronger swimmer than I am and will occasionally front crawl across the lake to prove it. It was her that insisted we enroll our boys in high quality lesson program. We originally had them in city-run programs, which were cheaper, but the instructors looked like they just sucked hits from bongs and did not pay much attention to the mechanics of swimming or general water safety rules. So we switched about three years ago.
Now both Hud and Tasman are very confident swimmers and are a bit reluctant to join in their lessons come the fall. But the I know how to swim lament falls on deaf ears because they are going back every year until they can take their bronze cross. Save my life once and I may let you skip a season.
Until then, my little porpoises, play safe knowing you will never, ever be a Monday morning newspaper headline.