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Monday, May 31, 2010

A boy almost drowned and nobody else cared


I came across this blog from a friend and I felt the need to spread the word to all parents of kids' taking up swimming lessons.

The link of her blog: Fair and Square

My personal account of what happened last Saturday, May 29, 2010 during the CAL Swimming School Swim Event where my son Andrei almost drowned.

We have been informed of the CAL Swimming School Graduation and Swim Meet via SMS by Coach Tin of CAL Casa Milan since his 10-day swimming lessons ended few weeks prior to the said event. My son, Andrei, 5 y.o. is a beginner swimmer and since this will be a first time, we wanted him to experience the fun of being in a swimming competition – which by now I hope would still be the case.

Upon confirmation of our attendance for the Swim Meet, we were informed by Coach Tin that Andrei will be accompanied by a swimming coach during the event. This is one of the reasons why we have decided to make him attend the event. We are fully aware of our son’s limited swimming know-how given his age and his recently acquired knowledge in swimming.

Come May 29, 2010, Saturday we were all excited this momentous event in our son’s life. But it is sad that it turned out to be a parent’s nightmare.

Andrei was in the 25M Freestyle event of kids 6y.o. below. I, the mother accompanied my son to the waiting bench upon the cue from Coach Derrick (of CAL Casa Milan) that his turn is near. I knew I had to be by my son’s side because the other kids were just roaming around and that being just a 5y.o., my son still couldn’t tend for himself and would probably have difficulty following instructions from people he barely knew much more from those who were so busy to even attend to each and every kids’ needs.

Come Event 13 which my son was in, the parents have decided to escort their kids by the pool side. One father (from the participants of event 13) even asked, “Wala bang magsasama sa mga bata dun sa pool? Mga bata pa yan, hindi pa nila alam yang mga ganyan.” - referring to the piece of paper given to kids to hand to their timers and to the instruction that they go to their assigned lane.

Then somebody came to the kids and got their papers (as he will instead hand them to the timers) because the kids were to dive in the pool from the other end (without the diving board). The kids were asked to march out to the pool already. If I remember right, only 2 from CAL were there to escort the kids out from the waiting bench.

I was still hoping that somebody was on the side to come in case any one of the kids would need help. I was talking to my son if he was still okay to jump in. Then came the whistle – the cue that the race started. My son jumped in the pool like the other kids. He tried to swim a little but panicked later on because of the pools depth. He turned back to face me and then I saw him cry and struggled as he was slowly drowning. I looked around waiting for somebody from the CAL team or the QC Sports Club lifeguard to come and rescue him.

A few seconds more passed. In mixed feelings of shock, panic and worry for my son’s safety, I threw my bag and camera to the ground and jumped in to save him. I realized later on that my newly bought mobile phone was in the pocket of my jeans when I lunged in. I am not a trained swimmer but I somehow know the basics of swimming so I managed to grab him and take him to the pool side. It was only a few seconds after I jumped in the pool that somebody from CAL came and jumped in too.

My brother, who was on the other side of the pool came running towards our side after he saw what happened. Michael, my fiancé and Andrei’s dad, was on the other end of the pool since he was the one taking the video. We managed to take my son to the side and check on him.

It is sad that other than the one from CAL who came to help, nobody else checked on us if we were okay. No medical nor first aid what-have-yous were given. The guy from CAL (we were not able to get his name) only said, “Pasensya na ho.” to my brother after we were brought to the side – but walked away soon after.

For a little boy’s life to be ignored over seven other kids’ race is very disheartening. The race went on --- and nobody cared if there was a five year old kid in danger.

After we’ve checked that my son’s already calm and okay, we walked back to our table. My brother and Michael came over the organizer’s table to tell them what happened. What they got from one of the organizers (whom Coach Aris Lim himself believe as per our conversation later on was HIS brother) was, “So anong gusto niyong gawin namin?”. To which my fiancé retorted, “Tarantado ka ba, muntik nang malunod ang anak ko dun, at tatanungin mo ako kung anong gusto kong gawin?”…During the heated argument my fiancé also questioned the absence of lifeguards – and the same guy said, “Hindi ho kami lifeguards.”

Instead of apologizing for what was clearly lack of safety measures as well as negligence on the side of the organizers, the guy answered back arrogantly and as if one’s life was not much of importance. Should you be in our position as parents, even brothers or sisters, or grandparents, I AM SURE THAT YOU WOULD FEEL THE SAME WAY AS WE DID. A mother sitting on that side of the pool who saw what happened even approached us and told us that we should file a complaint.

I was in shock and barely talked afterwards. I still could not believe what could have happened should I acted too late to save my son – my one and only. Just so you know, I was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia back in 2005 and underwent bone marrow transplantation among many other surgeries. I am still not allowed to swim in communal pools because, even though I am already in remission, my immune system is still weak compared to normal healthy people.

I took the risk and initiative BECAUSE THE ONE IN DANGER IS MY SON. I could have done the same even with somebody else’s child. I am sure any one of you could have done the same. I am not telling my medical history here for anything else – it is just so you all know that I would do anything for my son and his life --- which THE ORGANIZERS COMPLETELY IGNORED. And that NOBODY FROM CAL sincerely apologized and made us feel that they also value our SON’S LIFE.

Coach Aris Lim’s apologies came very late – he only came to sit down and talk to us when we went to the HRD Office of the Quezon City Sports Club to file a complaint. I was still dripping wet, with no change of clothes but heard nobody from CAL offer me even a shirt to change to. QCSC HRD Manager Karen Layug was the one to offer me a CAL shirt but I declined as I was already on my way out to buy a shirt and shorts from the Sporting Goods Shop of the QCSC. Only a Php3,500 worth badminton shirt and shorts fit me so I had no choice but to buy those. You would probably feel the same way as I did – IN NO WAY THAT I WILL BE A WALKING ADVERTISEMENT OF AN ORGANIZATION THAT PUT MY SON INTO DANGER.

We are still waiting for the response from Coach Aris Lim and the Quezon City Sports Club regarding our complaint. We hope that this incident would never happen again. There were more than 100 kids during that event and the lack of contingency and safety measures would have probably made them all in danger --- just like what happened to my son.

IT IS A SHAME that from a “…Team of PASA accredited Coaches and registered swimming Teams” that claims to “ensure the highest quality of learning and training environment” (quoted from their facebook page) – ONE KID’S LIFE WAS SORELY NEGLECTED --- MY SON’S LIFE --- SOMETHING THAT CAN NEVER BE REPLACED.



In my opinion: No coach in his / her right mind would allow a 5 y.o. who recently took a 10-day beginner swimming lesson to join a swimming competition. The coach must first train the child to swim competitively and assess the ability of the child to swim the whole length of at least a 25-meter pool before he / she allows the child to compete.

I was a competitive swimmer back in high school, I taught swimming to kids and assisted coach Mando Yumul of King Orca for 3 consecutive summers. Before we let any swim student to compete, he / she must undergo at least 2 weeks intensive competitive swim training, of course it is a given that the student can swim the whole 25-meter pool without stopping. It is also part of the training that young kids must hold to the lane line if he / she cannot swim to the end and continue if he / she wants to or wait for someone to get him / her.

The coach of CAL and his instructors are obviously neglecting the safety of children in return of the profits they reap.

I hope this won't happen again.

Blessed be.


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