A Victorian mother of two relives a terrifying incident at her brother’s swimming pool.
On an unusually hot November day on the Mornington Peninsula, Lucy jumped at the chance to take her kids and a few friends to her brother’s pool.
As she always has, the mother-of-three sat by the pool inside the enclosed area feeding her five-month-old boy, Ferg, while her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Clementine, was playing on the tiled steps. with his 7 and 8 year old friends.
With two other adults staying there to watch the children, the wary mother decided to hurry out of the pool to her bag just outside the door to grab a rag to wipe up her son’s saliva.
“It was a few seconds and as I grabbed the rag I heard screams of ‘Grab her!’ and I knew something had happened,” said the 43-year-old. Kidspot.
In the brief moment that Lucy had turned her back on her, Clementine had fallen backwards into the three-foot water.
As she instinctively started kicking while on her back in survival mode – something she had learned in a few months of swimming lessons – the toddler found herself dangerously submerged under a donut inflatable pool.
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“I walked away from the pool for a few seconds and heard screams of ‘Catch her! “”Source: Provided to Kidspot
“They grabbed my little girl under the pool toy and pulled her out”
“The kids were right next to Clementine, so when I came running back I heard the adults telling them to grab her arm,” Lucy recalled of that fateful day in 2018.
“The kids had just frozen… so one of the adults quickly jumped in and grabbed her from under the pool toy and handed Clementine to me upside down.”
Although the traumatic event was over three years ago, Lucy will never forget the feeling of trying to save her only daughter.
“I squeezed his chest and so a lot of water came out of her mouth – it was like liters,” she vividly recalls.
“I still remember everything like it was in slow motion, but it all would have happened in less than 15 seconds, it was so fast.”
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“She didn’t want to go near water anymore, she wouldn’t dip her toe in for four months.” Source: Provided to Kidspot
“There was no sound when she was drowning…that’s what was worrying”
Lucy’s biggest shock at the time was her granddaughter’s silence.
“She was just blinking, moving her eyes back and forth, and she was shaking,” she recalled.
“She didn’t know what was going on and had a big scare – there was no sound… that’s what was worrying.”
Having already saved countless children from water in her teaching career, Lucy managed to stay calm and gave Clementine a few more smacks on her back to try and expel the remaining water.
“She threw up water again and it was a huge relief to see her come out, and she looked fine.”
While Clementine, now five years old, fortunately suffered no physical injury from the accident, the toddler was nonetheless traumatized by her near-drowning.
“She didn’t want to go near water anymore, she wouldn’t dip her toe in for four months.”
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“Since then I have a rule that there are no pool toys near the stairs.” Source: Provided to Kidspot
“Never, ever take your eyes off the kids in the water”
While the incident didn’t deter Lucy from taking her three children into the water afterwards, it certainly made her even more cautious than she already was.
“I’ve since made a rule that there are no pool toys near the stairs,” she says.
“Experiencing a scare like this made us all the more vigilant. It reminded us of what we already knew – that you can never, ever take your eyes off children in the water, whether they’re wearing floaties or life jackets.
“If she had been face down in the water – we don’t know what could have happened…her natural instinct to float on her back saved her.”
At the time of publication, there have been 69 drowning deaths in Australia this summer, according to the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report, with deaths of children aged zero to four years up 9% on the year former.
Kingswim is encouraging parents to get kids back in the pool with the return of the school year to better equip kids for water safety.