5-year-old Saves Her Mom from Drowning (Same Age We Don’t Let Walk to School or Wait in Car)

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Here’s a heartening story from Texas: Five-year-old Allison Anderwald was sitting on the edge of the pool when her mom suffered a seizure in the middle of the pool. Allison immediately —

…dove into the water, and started pulling her mom to the shallow end.

It took several tries, but Allison didn’t give up.

Once she got her mom to the shallow end, she turned her over, pulled her head above water, then went inside for help.

Allison’s sisters and aunt, Tedra Hunt, came rushing out to get her mom out of the pool.

Hunt describes the event.

“She was really heavy, and I could only get the top part of her out, and then her other daughters ran over and helped me get her out, and so, Allison was able to do that on her own. And so, it’s a miracle,” Hunt says.

Allison has been swimming since she was two and a half.

As Larry Txeast, one of the folks who sent in this story, wrote, “It goes to show–it’s better to teach your children how to swim than it is to ‘protect’ them by not letting them in the water at all like most parents I see tend to do.”

Totally agree. It also suggests that YMCAs and other facilities that insist that a parent always be just one arm’s length away from their kid in the pool are making it hard for anyone with more than one child to ensure their kids learn to swim.

Finally, it also goes to show that the same age kids that our laws and customs are treating as almost inert, are thinking, acting human beings. We think we are helping them by keeping them in a cocoon of safety. Better to let them spread their (water) wings. – L.

.KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi

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A 5-year-old is a thinking, acting person.

A 5-year-old saved her mom from drowning. 

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31 Responses to 5-year-old Saves Her Mom from Drowning (Same Age We Don’t Let Walk to School or Wait in Car)

  1. BL March 25, 2016 at 6:49 am #

    “–it’s better to teach your children how to swim than it is to ‘protect’ them by not letting them in the water at all like most parents I see tend to do”

    But of course their brains aren’t developed until they’re 18 or 21 or 45 or whenever it is. It’s a scientific fact, don’t you know?

    But I guess Alison is too young to know that. Good thing.

  2. Katie March 25, 2016 at 8:39 am #

    And for heaven’s sake, let’s get life jackets back to being for boats! I cringe every time I see kids wearing one for “swimming”, because it’s a matter of physics. Swimming is done horizontally. Life jackets keep a person vertical. One cannot practice something horizontal, if one is vertical.

  3. Workshop March 25, 2016 at 9:11 am #

    Katie, my oldest doesn’t want to learn to swim; he hates getting water in his ears. So I put the jacket on him, because I’d rather him explore around the pool than not.

    When he’s ready, he’ll be ready. I’m not going to force him to swim just because he’s not on someone else’s timeline.

  4. Coccinelle March 25, 2016 at 9:27 am #

    @ Katie

    Yes, yes and yes! As a kid, I was terrified of water in my life jacket and when I finally tried proper swimming aids, I felt so much better! I was maybe 6-7 but I sill remember it. It’s hard to explain the feeling.

  5. Havva March 25, 2016 at 10:16 am #

    @Workshop, my understanding is that your son’s feelings on the issue are quite common. My daughter hated having water on her face, especially if she got splashed. Thankfully we came across a swim school that sparked her curiosity. It took 15 weeks for her to get through the “water familiarization” level. That was as frustrating to her as anyone (she decided she wanted to be a mermaid, you see). The school just kept telling us over and over that what she needed to progress, was simply to get comfortable in the water, which would simply take more time in the water. So that’s what she got. Classes full of silly games, and spraying toys, and kids being encouraged to splash. They were such a huge help. She would try things with other kids that had her bawling at home. And finally she reached the point where she it was just a fun game to fill the tub at home extra full and have us all take turns blowing bubbles in the tub. She still can’t swim without floats, but she is finally on her way, because she is finally comfortable with getting wet, and getting horizontal.

    I hope your son finds his motivation. It’s a great thing when they are finally happy in the water.

  6. jb March 25, 2016 at 10:18 am #

    “It goes to show–it’s better to teach your children how to swim than it is to ‘protect’ them by not letting them in the water at all like most parents I see tend to do.”

    Where are you that this is what you see? I have had the exact opposite experience.

    “Totally agree. It also suggests that YMCAs and other facilities that insist that a parent always be just one arm’s length away from their kid in the pool are making it hard for anyone with more than one child to ensure their kids learn to swim.”

    My local YMCA does not require this. Where are the crazy facilities that do?

  7. Katie March 25, 2016 at 10:33 am #

    Jb, they seem to vary all over. Peope have commented on this site about absurd policies and reasonable ones; the Y is not monolithic.

  8. Workshop March 25, 2016 at 10:40 am #

    Havva, thanks for the encouragement. I’m not worried.

    My mom has the same issue. She knows how to swim, just doesn’t like getting water in her ears. That seems to be my son’s issue. He plugs his ears when washing his hair. Going horizontal means getting water in his ears.

    Heck, when I learned to SCUBA dive, I had to decouple the feeling of water getting up my nose from the thought of water getting into my lungs. Didn’t like it, but I can deal with it.

    Maybe if I find some old Jacques Cousteau videos he’ll me more likely to learn. That’s what worked for me!

  9. Havva March 25, 2016 at 10:49 am #

    @Workshop, Jacques Cousteau is great stuff regardless. My husband still has some old tapes of “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau”. But it looks like there are full episodes on youtube, so perhaps the tapes can get a break.

  10. lyra March 25, 2016 at 11:55 am #

    Kids can do more than we give them credit for. A year ago our cat was diagnosed with diabetes. Our eight year old knows how to check his blood glucose (which involves poking him in the ear with a lancet), collecting the blood, and measuring the insulin needed depending on his number, and giving him the shot. She started when she was 7. She wants to be a nurse or a vet one day, so she is now getting plenty of practice!

  11. david zaitzeff March 25, 2016 at 12:29 pm #

    Wow!

    Thanks for sharing!!

    z

  12. fred schueler March 25, 2016 at 12:46 pm #

    but mothers drowning from seizures are as rare as abductions of children by strangers…. oh, right.

  13. John March 25, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

    A couple of years ago, there was a 2-year-old girl who could fluently swim across the pool, perhaps she was 1.5 years old, I can’t remember. So the proud parents videotaped her from the edge of the pool as she swam across it and put the video on youtube. But OMG, all of the bloggers below the video went ballistic because a parent wasn’t right with her in the pool! In fact, the video even made the talk show circuit where the “experts” were scolding the parents for not being right there in the water with their toddler child and they even called for the parents to be investigated.

    So I though to myself, how ridiculous. Most likely, her parents probably HAVE stood right there with her hundreds of times as she successfully swam across that pool so what was the possibility of her drowning then as they were videotaping her? Besides they were not much further away from her while standing at the edge of the pool and had she started to drown, which was unlikely, they could have easily gotten to her, probably within 2 seconds! I mean, the kid was about 3 feet from the edge. Goodness, if you watched that video you could easily surmise that the parents weren’t exactly sitting up in bleachers as their daughter performed that feat. They were right at the edge of the pool pointing the camcorder DOWN at their swimming child!

    Why can’t people use a little common sense when it comes to children?

  14. Workshop March 25, 2016 at 2:19 pm #

    John, I’d guess it’s because they don’t have any common sense to spare.

  15. Caroline March 25, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

    My local Y wouldn’t let my 6-year-old in the pool without a life-jacket unless an adult was within arm’s reach. They would happily let my husband be responsible for her, without even checking if he can swim. She’s a better swimmer than he is.

  16. Vaughan Evans March 25, 2016 at 3:45 pm #

    It just goes to show the power of friendship and people.

    Children are capable of more potential than mos people realize.

    I think the biggest fault of parents is that they act like obstructionists
    They treat even their adult children condescendingly/

    My mother chided me one for using the word “biennial” (def. a plant that lives for two years-,it flowers. seeds, and dies at the end of is second year.

  17. LRH March 25, 2016 at 4:03 pm #

    jb asked “where do you have parents screaming ‘GET OUT’ I never see that?” (That’s not an exact quote.) I see it all the time around here. Well, the parents may not forbid the children from being in the water at ALL, but they are nonetheless VERY anal about how far out they’ll let them go. They are constantly screaming at them “COME BACK!!” and I mean constantly.

    Understand, drowning is a real risk and you have to be vigilant, but it’s one thing to be responsible and it’s quite another to suck all the fun out of the activity altogether. Around here, the latter is an extremely common thing.

    Us–our children were 4-5 when they were able to swim in water over their heads. We’ve always been in their vicinity, but we’ve also let them learn by doing and by a little teaching to go with it. We tend to avoid city pools because they’re so anal about how they are with this sort of thing, they’re in 24/7 “lawsuit prevention mode” and it’s annoyingly stifling. We stick to “wild swimming” spots like lakes, rivers, pools without lifeguards etc so we can just do what we want without all the nagging. It’s so much funner that way. In those over-lifeguarded city pools our kids don’t feel “safe,” they feel stifled and imprisoned. No, thank you.

  18. lollipoplover March 25, 2016 at 4:04 pm #

    I was on the swim team when I was 5. All of my kids joined the swim team at 6 after years of lessons. I probably would have started them earlier of we had a backyard pool.

    What this little girl did was amazing. She obviously was a competent swimmer but she also was very brave. I’m a huge advocate of early swim classes that teach survival methods for very young kids. I was also a former lifeguard and had 2 rescues of kids who couldn’t swim but had swimmies on their arms and lost the jumping in the pool. I think these vests and flotation devises give a false sense of security in pools and learning to float, get on your back, and get to the wall are smarter techniques to teach.

  19. andy March 25, 2016 at 5:47 pm #

    “it’s better to teach your children how to swim than it is to ‘protect’ them by not letting them in the water at all like most parents I see tend to do”

    The trend seem to be to push kids to swim as soon as possible, many times starting as a babies and continuing. I cant think of a single parent that does not allow the kid in the water, the exception being deep water and kids that can not swim yet.

  20. SKL March 25, 2016 at 9:15 pm #

    Wondering why this hasn’t been shown all over the news. God forbid people think a 5yo has the ability to do anything in a crisis situation.

    Great job, little girl!

  21. lele March 25, 2016 at 10:43 pm #

    I taught myself how to swim, that was in 1985 though…the good old days. My daughter is also a natural swimmer, and has been the past 6 years (she started at 4 & now is 10, gasp!) Its great to see the fearlessness in her & it feels wonderful to not be fearful.

    I have seen parents with 13 year olds starring at their pre-teen the entire time at our community pool. It looks boring and like work. I bring a book, lay out in the sun, and my daughter has a great time….

  22. lele March 25, 2016 at 10:53 pm #

    I have seen capable swimmers ranging from 5 to teen years with parents hovering. And I mean hovering, such as freaking out if under water to get a pool toy longer than a few seconds.

    I was at my apartment pool with my daughter & her 12 year old friend, I went in the club house to use the restroom, and came back to my daughters friends mom poolside, demanding to know why I had left them(for 3 minutes)… A 10 & 12 yr old, perfectly capable swimmers. She was on her balcony watching me watch her 12 year old swim in a 4 ft pool.

    It happens….

  23. James Pollock March 25, 2016 at 11:24 pm #

    “‘Totally agree. It also suggests that YMCAs and other facilities that insist that a parent always be just one arm’s length away from their kid in the pool are making it hard for anyone with more than one child to ensure their kids learn to swim.’

    My local YMCA does not require this. Where are the crazy facilities that do?”

    That’s not about children that are in danger when near the pool. That’s about children who are annoying to others when near the pool.

    When I was 3, I lived in an apartment complex that had a pool. One day, as we went to the pool, I ran on ahead, grabbed a kickboard, and jumped as far out into the pool as I could. The kickboard snapped down the middle. One half went left, one half went right, and I went straight to the bottom. By the time my mom got there, I’d walked up the bottom of the pool to the shallow end, and climbed out the steps.

  24. elizabeth March 26, 2016 at 12:00 am #

    Good job, little girl! I taught myself how to swim. Countless lessons and floaties never did me any good. However, one day when i was ten, i saw some younger kids doing cannonballs and stuff. I wanted to try it. So i backed up to the fence, took a running leap, and jumped as far out as i could in eight feet of water. By the time my dad got there, i had kicked back up off the bottom and swam to the wall. Never had a problem swimming again.

  25. John S March 26, 2016 at 12:50 am #

    I have read that children learning how to swim at a very early age helps them develop better physically and mentally. Does anyone remember not too long ago the programs that had mothers helping teach the very young–and in some cases well before they were “potty-trained”–to swim? Learning to swim like this helps them become more self-reliant, and, as I understand it, far less “accident-prone” when it comes to swimming. Several cousins learned very early how to ride a bicycle–all without parents hovering over them almost every minute.

    By the same logic, very young children learning to speak foreign languages is also a boon to their intellectual development in many other fields. The same holds true with their learning to read and appreciating reading, and with their exposure to music and the arts. My niece learned German as she learned English, and she remains fluent in both, was a top student in grades K-12, and recently finished a very demanding medical training course.

    I say bravo! Bravo to those parents and guardians who encourage their children to learn to swim, to read, to explore the world around them!

  26. Momof8 March 26, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

    What a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing it. We rarely go to the rec center because the kids weren’t allowed to have fun. There’s a creepy, stalk-ish lifeguard there on a power trip. The rest of them are almost as bad. “Don’t throw the (beach) ball in the pool!”

  27. hineata March 26, 2016 at 8:13 pm #

    This is fabulous! Just as well the girl was there. Rather like the Aussie 7 year old who fished his parents out of the farm dam after they electrocuted themselves, though that was a while back now….

    Life jackets are obviously a boon for kids who shouldn’t put their heads under water…they mean the kid can still cool off and not miss ALL the fun. However agreed they are pretty hopeless as an aid to learning to swim.

  28. hineata March 26, 2016 at 8:15 pm #

    BTW happy Easter, nor sure if you celebrate with a holiday over there in North America but Papillio, am assuming you all do? Anyway I need a five year old to come and save me from all my chocolate ☺…

  29. pentamom March 26, 2016 at 10:24 pm #

    Hineata, we do! And Happy Easter to you as well.

  30. Papilio March 29, 2016 at 2:24 pm #

    @Hineata: Argh, I thought I left a comment but I think something went wrong with the internet or whatever. Yep, we do sort of celebrate it (gathering with family, no religous aspect whatsoever). Bit late to wish you happy Easter too though :-/

  31. SanityAnyone? March 31, 2016 at 9:37 am #

    Though I agree with the sentiment of this article and the general capability of children, I also agree with the Aunt when she said “this is a miracle”. There was a pretty high risk the five year old could have drowned saving her Mom or would have been unable to do so and lost precious rescue time trying alone. My understanding is that anyone with less than adult strength is advised against going into the water to save an adult because they are likely to be pulled under. The proper procedure is to yell for help and attempt to throw a flotation device or extend a long pole to someone in need. Of course if someone is having a seizure, those won’t work and I’m glad both people survived, but it was along the lines of a miracle.