Drowning: The Quick and Silent Way it Actually Happens


One of my biggest fears as a parent is one of our kids drowning. It has made me hyper-vigilant around water and my kids have always worn life jackets while at the beach or pool. 

Because we have four kids and only two adults we don’t venture to the water often. Most swimming lessons need one parent per child and since we have four it’s made it difficult to coordinate. So we stay safe until we can figure out how to get them all swimming.

The Quick and Silent Way Drowning Actually Happens

During the winter break, we had the opportunity to take the kids to the pool. The odds were in our favour as the ratio was 5:4, five adults to our four kids. Except I forgot the life jackets at home and the kids were already hyped up to go, as was everyone else. Because as previously mentioned we don’t do water often so any occasion is a special occasion.

We were at the pool for a few hours. Our oldest child is now tall enough to stand with his head above water so with only three adults being needed at all times we had time to relax and enjoy the other amenities. Our youngest fell asleep about 30 minutes into being floated around the pool because I imagine he felt like he was back in the womb. So we lost an adult who napped with him on the lounge chair. No biggie.

There is nothing scarier than a 3-year-old who loves to swim, is fearless, and has selective hearing. Weirdly enough Aria is also our strongest quasi-swimmer with a life jacket. She will swim all day long, knows how to make sure water doesn’t get in her nose and understands how to flip onto her back so she can float when tired. But we had no life jacket so we had to have someone on her at all times because she wanted to keep getting out and jumping in.

For hours we played in the water. Near the last half hour I swapped spots with another adult to watch our sleeping baby. I decided to run out and grab some fresh towels from the other side of the pool. My daughter was playing by the stairs in the shallow end with hubby. The two older kids were learning to swim in the deep end with another adult. There was at least a dozen other people in the pool.  As I was walking back to the lounge chairs I was passing my husband and youngest daughter by the stairs.

I slowed down right in front of her because she bobbed under the water once, came back up, and bobbed under the water again. It was seconds but it felt a lot longer because I was trying to process what was happening. She was too far to grab but too close for me to jump in without her going further down. At the time she went under the second time my husband screamed her name and grabbed her. He had turned around for one second, that is all it took.

He gave her to me and I wrapped her in the towels I was holding. There was no screaming, thrashing, or noise. Completely silent and so, so fast. I took her back to the lounge chair so I could rub her back and try to get her to cough up any water she had swallowed. Even though the pool was full almost no one noticed what happened. A mom and her son did because they were right beside her in the water and she came up to my husband and I in shock. She told us she didn’t realize it could be that fast. Her son had ran to grab an extra floatie they had so our little girl could use it. We were done though, in shock at what almost happened. 

It wasn’t until later that evening that I think reality hit. It could have ended so much worse for us and God was watching over our family. We got to cuddle our little girl to sleep that night and I don’t really like to air my humongous parenting failures for all to read but I think I am probably doing more harm by not sharing. The other moms face at the pool is enough reminder that most people don’t realize how fast it happens and how silently it really goes down, literally.

So if you are around any body of water with a child I urge you always keep your eyes on them at all times. One second is all it took for what could have been a lifetime of regrets.

Aneta Alaei
Aneta Alaei

Aneta is a Toronto-based mom of four that loves a good meal, great company, and learning something new. In her free time, you can find her trying to keep yet another plant alive.

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  1. Treen Goodwin
    January 6, 2017 / 9:34 am

    It is a scary thing for a parent , it can happen so easy , and fast …it happened in my family this summer , just a baby , the older child opened the door to the pool and the little one drowned , so very sad to lose a lil one to drowning i can’t imagine how the parents are feeling , i swear you need eyes in the back of your head , so glad your lil one was ok , so scary .

  2. Victoria Ess
    January 6, 2017 / 10:11 pm

    What a scary experience. I’m so glad that she was okay — I didn’t realize that it would happen so quickly and quietly.

  3. Lynda Cook
    January 7, 2017 / 2:36 pm

    It is so sad and tragic, but it can happen so quickly it’s scary, I was always paranoid when my girls went into the water!!

  4. kathy downey
    May 23, 2017 / 1:53 pm

    Happy to hear your little one was ok,accidents can happen so quickly i hope everyone can stay safe this summer!