Budgeting Away Safety

Today’s post is a deviation from the typical tirades of snarky sarcasm followers love. (Hell, I need an alliteration intervention.) Bear with me, the banter resumes next week along with a few delightful surprises.

I’m a mother. (A colorful profanity typically follows that statement.) Rightfully, I’ve developed protective instincts rivaling a mama lioness when it comes to the safety of my children, especially at sporting events.  Much to the cubs’ embarrassment, the instinct extends to friends and teammates – even those on opposing squads.

Last Tuesday, my youngest son, Brendan competed in his first high school swim meet. Hmm, how shall I describe Big B? I suppose you could say his spunk offsets his size. (Here’s his story if you are interested.)

If you’ve attended a swim meet you know temps on the pool deck rival a volcano’s digestive tract; chaos and ear-splitting volume are the norm. An away-meet, Brendan’s lack of familiarity added stress, but he hit the water with a hearty inaugural SPLASH! Fab first time he finished strong, jumped out for his high-fives and then minutes later…


60 kids, 75 fans, 4 coaches and not one person saw him.


At the bottom of the pool.

A seasoned swimmer, lifeless, still.

Pulled from the water by a teammate, coaches revived the child before emergency transport rushed him to a nearby hospital but the question we all wanted answered – Where the hell was the lifeguard?

There was none.

My lioness craved blood.

In particular, the blood of the school board that deemed lifeguards non-essential at swim meets where coaches are certified in CPR and emergency first aid. Budget constraints, the ass-old excuse.

I’m not a politician, (thank Christ!) however, I possess common sense, and that sense tells me a coach cannot simultaneously manage, cheer and guard the water. For feedback, I’ll pose the question to all of you:

Do you believe CPR/First Aid certified coaches at high school level swim meets adequately ensure the safety of participants and eliminates the need for lifeguards?

Coaches, educators, especially lifeguards – I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please chime in. If you would rather remain anonymous, please email me at kathrynelliottwrites@yahoo.com.

Many thanks!

Note: The boy is doing well. Shaken, but well. Please check out this link on Shallow Water Blackout and spread awareness! Thank you.

Training Update:

25lbs gone, burpees no longer make me cry. Progress!

Join in the fun at My Peak Challenge!



11 comments on “Budgeting Away Safety

  1. Doris Mrugala says:

    What!!! You don’t have a soccer, football or any sport involving a ball with out having a referee or umpire present! A lifeguard at a swim meet falls into this category. Find the money to keep our kids and all the other town’s swimmers safe! If you need help carrying your soapbox let me know! I hope the swimmer is ok. Any update?

  2. Hi Doris. The young man is doing well, thank you. Scary, and so avoidable.

  3. Jennifer Anderson says:

    i agree there should be lifeguards. Some high schools with pools are demanding them during swim classes after two students died at their schools in the pool during swim lessons. Do we have to wait until that happens at a meet?

  4. mrsmac1214 says:

    There should be lifeguards. We have a trainer floating around the ball fields for all home sports and I’m grateful for that. I would have been biting heads off, literally. I’m thankful your son is fine. shame on the board!!

  5. mrsmac1214 says:

    Shame on your Board of Ed. Yes, absolutely you should have lifeguards.

  6. Linda Swainson says:

    As a lifeguard once upon a summer job or two a long time ago, I can tell you this. A lifeguard’s job is all consuming. Your job is to scan the water constantly, to watch the swimmers without distraction. Drowning is often silent. If you aren’t watching ALL THE TIME, you won’t see someone get into trouble. You won’t hear them. You won’t save them unless someone else, watching where you were not, calls an alert in time. Coaches, whether they are trained in CPR and emergency first aid or not, are not watching the water and all the swimmers without distraction. Their job is to coach and by definition that means that whomever they are coaching at the moment has all of their attention, and all the other swimmers are on their own. The student at the bottom of the pool was lucky. Next time, someone may not be so fortunate. If the School Board will not ensure the students are as safe as they can be by hiring a qualified lifeguard for all swim meets, then the parents should refuse to allow their children to swim at that meet no matter how well qualified and well intentioned their coaches.

  7. Chris C. says:


    Serious question, are there chaperone’s at these meets? Sectional/stroke ‘managers’? Someone who should have counted how many kids are their responsibility and that they are all together?

    Coaches have way too many things going on to be the safety team too. Softball/baseball has ‘dugout dads’, soccer has water/orange parents. Even HS band has sectional parents post-presentation to get them off the field and water breaks.

    If they don’t maybe that could be a good ‘booster’ thing to recommend and get involved with. A parent at each lane, each corner between heats to be sure your team (and the visitors) kids get out of the pool. Hell, even get t-shirts made up. In this age of budget cuts and stupid excuses for safety lax, you may need to take over and fix it.

    Glad the kid is okay.

  8. KMB says:

    I was shocked to read what happened. Thank you for the link. That’s the type of information you want your child to learn in physical education, that’s what you want sent home for parents to see when they sign the permission slip. That’s what you want your teacher and substitute teachers to know; your board of education and principals. Then they will demand a life guard during this activity. Shocking.

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