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Springfield mom says daughter almost drowns at YMCA

swim instructors don't have to be lifeguard certified

Although all staff is trained in CPR and first aid after 90 days of employment, the YMCA says not all swim instructors are lifeguard certified but one Springfield mom says they should be.

July 25, 2013|Joanna Small | Reporter and Photographer

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Springfield mom says her daughter almost drowned under the supposed watchful eye of a swim instructor.  It happened at the Pat Jones YMCA at the beginning of the summer

  We caught up with the Waltons taking an early weekend at Table Rock Lake as they've been doing for many years, but recently a scary incident almost made the water a scary prospect.

  Five-year-old Cambelle and four-year-old Channing don't have much choice in the matter-- "Channing was down here six days out of the hospital"-- they're water babies and the water was always a pretty good place to be until their first swim lesson at the YMCA.

  "When you sign your kids up for a class that's supposed to be teach them how to be safe around the water you assume that the instructors are also trained in how to keep the kids safe but apparently that was not the case," explains Mom Carly Walton.

  Carly says the girls were left on a declining ramp in the shallow end of the pool without floatation devices.

  "She slipped under and got choked, and Chris [my husband] threw his phone and jumped in and grabbed her but even in the few seconds it took for that to happen she got so choked and full of water from going under where she couldn't touch that she threw up when she got out of the pool," Carly explains.

  Channing was terrified and Carly says rightfully so.  She says the swim instructor wasn't lifeguard certified.

  "Most of ours actually are but that's not a policy of ours, they don't have to be lifeguard certified to be a swim instructor because we do keep a lifeguard on duty at all times," says YMCA senior program director Kyla Bentley.  But, she says, within their first 90 days of employment all staff have to be trained in first aid and CPR.  She can't address this specific staff member or this specific incident but can say they are rare.

  "It is pretty rare we have to fill out an incident report because we're pretty proactive here," Kyla continues.

  One was filled out for Channing, and Carly's husband Chris had to sign it.

  "We had a really hard time getting a hold of anyone, we were supposed to get a copy of the incident report he signed and we never did get a copy of that,"  but Carly doesn't need to see it on paper to know her water babies are suddenly more comfortable on land.

  "All it took was a foot in a declining entry pool, a foot of water and a couple seconds and she was under and throwing up water."

  The Waltons were offered a refund but they still have not received it.  They were also offered private lessons at the YMCA but opted instead to send their girls to their neighborhood pool.  A few weeks of that and lake time is back to stress-free.

  The YMCA says it works hard to prevent problems like this by keeping small classes, no more than six kids in a pre-school lesson.  There's also one lifeguard for every 25 people in the pool.

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