I’ll give you a hint. All six reasons are the six years we’ve been around. That, saving lives, and teaching kids to swim. Okay, so maybe 8 great reasons.
My son (the one we almost lost) joined the swim team this year. He is my second child on the team so I’m no rookie at this, but I still get my heart in my throat when my children take big leaps towards growing up. See, he is six, and while he plays baseball too, they aren’t quite keeping score yet. So this summer was his first time racing, and losing.
He qualified to compete about halfway through the season and flailed through the water as fast as he could, coming into second to last. He climbed out of the water beaming and said, “I finished second to last, but that’s okay because I did my best.” And wouldn’t you know the next week he was bouncing with anticipation and excitement over competing in his next meet against bigger, faster kids.
Yeah, we teach him all about hard work and practice and racing himself. We talk about winning, and learning from losing. We are all about that growth mindset! And all that stuff is important, for us as parents, for him as a tiny human, and for us coaches as we teach your children. But do you know what makes my heart skip a beat with joy?
His sheer, unadulterated love of the water. He loves to swim.
Swim by the numbers
I can give you all the statistics on drowning prevention – how approximately one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries. The rate of near drowning is much higher, as not all near drownings are reported. With its miles of coastlines, multitude of natural freshwater bodies, and an abundance of swimming pools, Californians are at increased risk for drowning and near drowning incidents, with drowning being the leading cause of accidental death for children between the ages of 1 and 4. Additionally, among children with autism, the risk of drowning increases exponentially. Children with autism are 160 times as likely to die from drowning as the general pediatric population.
And they matter, the statistics, they are why we do what we do. Trust me I know. He almost was a statistic. But beyond his safety, statistics won’t ever convey the joy my son has in the water.
Statistics will never shine the way Nicole smiles when she is on the pool deck. When Nicole started swimming lessons with One with the Water, she rolled onto the pool deck in a wheelchair. Now, she walks onto the pool deck with her mother and brother each day, a huge grin on her face. The benefits of swimming are evident in all her therapies, increasing her strength and mobility at a rapid rate. She loves the water most though, and for those 30 minutes each time, she works hard, stretching her arms across the lane, stitching uncooperative muscle fiber and wayward neurons back together. For Nicole, swimming has restored her in more ways than one. When you talk to her mother and brother, you can hear it in their voices; you can hear it in their story. Their grief at what once was, their grace for what is, and their hope for what will be. And above all, love and pride for their beautiful, smiling Nicole.
Six hundred in six
It was our sixth birthday this past week. And we’ve got ONE thing on our wish list. Six hundred dollars to celebrate six years. We’d love to partner with our community to raise six hundred dollars in six days to share the joy. Six hundred dollars will put TWENTY kids in the pool for 8 weeks. Twenty children who will be safer from drowning, twenty children who will experience what our children are so privileged to know. It’s easy math – that’s just 24 people who donate $25 each. Or 60 people who are in for 10.
And we aren’t us without you. We need our people to spread the word. I don’t ask for you to share much, but I will now. Share, share, share with your networks, and don’t forget to donate!
Happy Birthday to us. Our hope is that all our children will be one with the water.