The water was great the pool wasn't too crowded and the lifeguards were nice. Everything was fine until I heard a little girl call for help. I turned around and she was a couple of feet from me doing her level best to keep her head above water and grasp for the completely inadequate swim ring she had jumped into the pool with.
I zeroed in one her. All I had to do to help her was to extend an arm and let her grab it but I also knew that she needed to fight her way to the side (only a couple of feet away on each side of her) if at all possible. As I debated whether to help her or not I looked up to see the lifeguard doing the same thing I was doing. He was trying to let her make it on her own. Which she did - barely.
Once she made it to the side I looked at him and said, "I really thought she wasn't going to make it."
He agreed with me. He walked over to her and made sure she was alright. Then he asked her to swim the length of the pool. She floundered around like a small bird trapped in the water moving about an inch a minute. He looked at me and said, "what do you think?"
"Make her stay on the other side of the rope," I said as I shook my head no. "I've had to pull 3 of them out before and I don't want to add to the list."
"He agreed and proceeded to nicely ask the little girl to stay on the other of the rope. She proceeded to protest saying her mom let her swim in the deep end all the time. Finally after a couple of minutes of arguing the little girl went back to the shallow end of the pool. At this point I thought she was there alone. After a few minutes I saw she was joined by both her mom and her dad who were too busy cooing over their baby to intercede when she had run into difficulty in the pool. They also didn't intercede when their child was arguing with the lifeguard.
Every year I go to the pool and watch at least one child come close to drowning because their parents either aren't there or they aren't paying attention to their children. Most people don't realize how quickly a child can go under and usually when it happens there is no scream and no splash. They just go under and don't come back up.
Have ever watched a small child at play and watched them run themselves into complete exhaustion and keep on going. Many times this is what happens when children are swimming. The problem is that once they become too exhausted they just go under - too weak to even struggle. If you are not vigilant you will not even notice they are gone until it is too late.
I am so tired of watching the same scenario play out every year. I have saved 3 children myself and each time the parents were not present or weren't paying attention to their drowning child. I guess it will never change.