Tri-Cities Directory

Swim lessons are proven to reduce the risk of drowning by up to 88%, INCLUDING for children ages 1-4. Please remember that all swim lessons are not created equally, so investigate options to find an effective program. 

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Last April, my husband asked- “What should we do about Levi and swim lessons?” Our girls each learned to swim at age 3, and Levi had just turned 3. But, as we talked, he ran around, tormenting his sisters with a plastic-tube-turned-into-a-sword. “He doesn’t seem ready,” we agreed. Then, in this moment that was the beginning of the end, I said- “Let me check the policy on swim lessons.” Based on that policy and the lack of toddler options in our area, we decided to wait until Levi turned 4.

6 weeks later, I pulled his lifeless body out of a pool. 

Please enroll your toddler in the RIGHT swim lessons, ones that focus on water competency. “Survival” is the goal. If your child can “swim” but only WITH a flotation device, that is not swimming. If your precious 3 year old somehow found his way to the deep end, could he survive? 

It is important to remember that ALL SWIM LESSONS ARE NOT CREATED EQUALLY. If you lack access to quality options, choose the best private instructor you can find. It should not take years for your child to learn to swim. Once they can swim, keep them in lessons, because drowning is a lifelong risk.

Swimming is not in the same category as soccer and dance. Drowning is the #1 cause of death for ages 1-4; many in that age group cannot swim. These two factors have to be connected. 

In our area of East TN, we didn’t have many swim options for toddlers a year ago (and I had never heard of this type of lessons before Levi died). When my girls were each 3, though, they took private lessons and could both swim within months of their third birthday. I will never stop wishing to go back in time and enroll Levi.

I understand the hesitation around swim lessons. I used to be a typical 

mom of 3 kids, forced to weigh every decision on time, finances, and my own parenting energy- which all seemed stretched too thin. 


Time? Let me tell you about TIME, about this lifetime without my son, about every moment he isn’t here, every bedtime kiss he will miss. You don’t want this eternity of time that stretches before me.

Money? Much of my life was spent on a budget, and I know money is a luxury. Many non-profits offer scholarships. Ask for swim lessons instead of gifts. Exhaust every option- budget and beg. The cost of swim lessons is a fraction of the price of a funeral. 

Tears? Your child hates swim lessons, even though the instructor is gentle-yet-persistent? Well, crying means breathing. On the night my world ended, I only heard silence by the pool. I would have given my life to hear my son crying. 

I THOUGHT I took water safety seriously. These photos were taken June 10, as we unknowingly marched toward the end. I now know that the puddle jumper gave Levi a false sense of security in the pool, and I want to snatch it off and enroll him in survival swim lessons. 

Please don’t wait on swim lessons.