Young boy learns to float on his back

Drowning: A True Story

The World Health Organization explains, “Drowning is the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid”. I want to tell you a true story about how quickly drowning can happen.


My husband, Tyrone, has always been adventurous and as a young child was incredibly naughty. He tells me he was ‘independent’. His family nickname was Tyke. When he was about 3 years old, Tyke decided he knew how to swim. His father was nearby but had told the children not to go close to the edge of the pool. Knowing he wasn’t allowed, Tyke quietly got into the swimming pool. It was minutes later when his older brother realized something was wrong and called for help. Their father was standing close to the pool and hadn’t heard any splashing, crying, or screams for help. Diving in to save his child, Steve knew he had to stay calm so he could save his son. They were 2 hours from the nearest clinic but that would be too late… He had to get his child out of the pool and perform CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation). After what must have felt like hours of chest compressions and ‘mouth-to-mouth’, Tyke coughed up the water and was able to breathe again. Accidents happen but thankfully someone called for help, someone knew how to swim and someone knew how to perform CPR. Many children are not this lucky.

Points that can be taken from this near tragic story:

  • Drowning is silent
  • Anyone can drown
  • You can drown in shallow water
  • No one can simply swim, you have to learn
  • Always pay attention to children and make sure they are safe
  • Children are adventurous and don’t know much about danger
  • Remain calm so you can provide help
  • Call for help
  • Knowing CPR can help save lives
  • Knowing how to swim can save your life or someone else’s
  • Even if the drowning victim survives, take them to be examined by a doctor to ensure there is no secondary drowning

Please feel free to share your own stories and if you want to find out more please read the World Health Organization’s Global Report on Drowning.

African Olympian Kirsty Coventry teaching children to swim