Keep Your Life Jacket On!

Six-fifteen-thirteen (06/15/2013)

At first glance this looks like the combination to my high school locker. In fact, it is the date that was almost on my headstone.

As a family we decided to spend Father’s Day weekend this year in St. George, Utah with Grandma and Grandpa at their condo.  Saturday morning I had the urge to go running and explore the neighborhood a little. To the south of the condo is a golf course that was calling my name.  6:45 a.m. and the temperature was already in the high 70’s.  As I reached the end of the golf course I was only at 1 mile and decided to hit the streets.  After winding through neighborhoods and taking a right onto a major road leading back to the i15, I realized that my 4 mile run had now turned into an 8 mile run.  There was no access through the hill side back to the condo and running on the freeway was not an option.  I turned around and headed back the way I came from.  I remember around mile number 6 I was repeating in my mind the little song that Dori sings during Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”  I finally reached my starting point.

Time to get ready for the water…

One thing that my father-in-law loves to do is to go boating.  Ever since I have known this man he has owned a boat.  I am not talking about a hunting/fishing or ski boat… his boat is a mini rocket that skips on the water. 

We make our way to Sandhallow Reservoir and claimed our spot on the shore line. The Southern Utah scenery is amazing with the contrast of the blue water and the red sand.  After some lunch, a sand castle, and getting use to the water, it’s time to go for a ride in Papa’s boat. I load my three kids into the boat while my wife stays on shore (at this time she is 7 months pregnant). The water is a little choppy as the wind is blowing a little.  There is so much excitement on my kid’s faces as grandpa speeds across the water.  We stop at a little cove that has some rocks that people are jumping off of into the water.  My brother-in-law dives off the back of the boat to cool off and my oldest daughter and I decide we would like to do the same thing. I end up with all three kids in the water bobbing next to the back of the boat.  The two youngest have life jackets on while my oldest daughter and myself do not… I know… stupid idea.  After 5 minutes in the water, I load all the kids back into the boat and we start back to the shore to meet up with the rest of the family.

A couple of hours have passed by and it is around 4:30 in the afternoon.  Needless to say, it is really hot! Mother Nature also decided to add a few more elements into the mix as the wind is now gusting and the water is now really choppy.  Grandpa announces that he is going out one more time on the water and all three of my kids start rushing to the boat.  I take a seat with my youngest on my lap and we are again speeding across the lake, this time with my sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and 4 kids.  We reach the same destination that we swam in a few hours before and grandpa turns the motor off.  The water is a little choppy, but not too bad for jumping in.  While removing her life jacket, my oldest voices that she wants to jump in again.  In unison, I along with my mother-in-law ask her if she should really take off her life jacket.  She hesitates for a second and says yes since she wants to dive in.  I get into the water with my eight year old son (who has a life jacket on) and hold on to the back of the boat.  We were fully unaware of how the wind was working against us.  My son is now 10 feet away from the boat and my daughter is struggling to bring him in.  Letting go of the boat I get to my kids and help my son. Expecting my oldest daughter to be right behind me, I look back and see that she is now about 20 feet away from the boat.  I let go of the boat again and swim to her to give her aid.  As I reach her I can see that she is struggling a little and ask if she is ok.  I turn to see how far we have to swim and now the boat is about 40 feet away.  Instantly, knowing that we are going to need it, I yell for help.  As I do this, a wave comes from behind me and I end up getting water in my mouth.  I start choking on water and realize that I am actually the one that needs help.  I quickly roll onto my back and start floating with my daughter next to me.  My Father-In-Law acts to my call for help and dives in to assist us (he also does not have a life jacket).  I am struggling to get the water out of my throat and begin wheezing and gasping for air.  My Father-In-Law reaches us very quickly and pushes me up as I feel myself starting to go down. I am arching my back as hard as I can to stay afloat and trying to keep my mouth out of the water.  As he wraps his arm around me to swim me back to the boat I look at him and hook my foot between my Daughters legs who is currently screaming that we are going to die. I was not going to leave my daughter in the water and I am willing to have her saved rather than me.  This whole time my Sister-In-Law and Mother-In-Law are on the boat with the younger kids and yelling for help.

I found myself battling with myself.  My body is going into survival/”freakout” mode while in my mind I was telling myself to “stay calm!” I could see the fear in my Father-In-Law’s eyes as both he and I are losing strength as we battle the water.  I am struggling to even breathe as I am unable to get the water out of my lungs.  Air is slowly wheezing in and out and for some reason all I can hear is my lungs struggling to keep me alive.  Holding my daughter up with my leg and my Father-In-Law holding my upper body, I begin asking my Father in Heaven if this is really it…. What will my family do without me… Please take care of them… Please help us.  As I was conversing with my Father in Heaven and preparing myself for the worst, I remember a calmness coming over me and a voice within my head saying that “all will be well”.  With my head mostly in the water I can hear a motor coming close. My eyes move in the direction of the sound and I see two boats.  As the boats reach us its passengers throw out life jackets and an inner tube in our direction. Instantly all three of us hook an arm onto the inner tube and a couple of men jump in to assist us.  My Father-In-Law was surprised to see that the first man who jumped in to save us was his neighbor (his old Home Teacher) who moved to Southern Utah a couple of years ago. 

After being dropped off from one of the rescue boats to our boat, I collapse in the passenger seat and hold my youngest daughter.  I am very grateful for the quick response of my Father-In-Law.  I am grateful for my Father in Heaven for preserving my life along with my Daughters. 

One Year Later…

Lesson learned… Never, ever, jump in without your life jacket on.  To this day I am still a little hesitant to get into water that is more than 5 feet deep.  I can still vividly remember the sounds and feeling (both physical and mental) associated with this experience.  I am truly grateful for my Father in Heaven for preserving my life.  I am grateful for my opportunity to continue being a father and husband to my family. I am also grateful for the spiritual lifejackets our Father in Heaven has provided us with.  Please do not jump into the “Lake of Life” without your spiritual life jacket on. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and the guidance it give me and my family.  I have also learned that nothing in life matters unless it involves your family.  It does not matter the size of the house, amount of the paycheck, or how many toys you have... all that matters is family.  I love my family with all my heart and grateful that we are able to create many more memories instead of having their last one of me be drowning in Southern Utah.

Photo from my run the morning of 06/15/2013

Cub Scout Swimming Sports Pin

Earn the Swimming belt loop and complete five of the following requirements:
  1. Practice the breathing motion of the crawl stroke while standing in shallow water. Take a breath, place your head in the water, exhale, and turn your head to the side to take a breath. Repeat.
  2. Learn and demonstrate two of the following strokes: crawl, backstroke, elementary backstroke, sidestroke, or breaststroke.
  3. Learn and demonstrate the following floating skills: prone, facedown float, and back float. The purpose of the float is to provide the swimmer the opportunity to rest in the water.
  4. Using a kickboard, demonstrate three kinds of kicks.
  5. Pass the “beginner” or “swimmer” swim level test.
  6. Visit with a lifeguard and talk about swimming safety in various situations (pool, lake, river, ocean). Learn about the training a lifeguard needs for his or her position.
  7. Explain the four rescue techniques: Reach, Throw, Row, and Go (with support).
  8. Take swimming lessons.
  9. Attend a swim meet at a school or community pool.
  10. Tread water for 30 seconds.
  11. Learn about a U.S. swimmer who has earned a medal in the Olympics. Tell your den or an adult family member what you learned about him or her.
  12. Demonstrate the proper use of a mask and snorkel in a swimming area where your feet can touch the bottom.

Second Class: Rec 8a: Safe Swim



8a: Tell what precautions must be taken for a safe swim.

Before your troop can jump in, the following precautions must be taken.

  • One adult leader must complete Safe Swim Defense training. (at a minimum)
  • The trained adult leader must have their certification card.
  • Trained adult must agree to use the eight defenses.
  • Each boy must pass a swim check
Eight Defenses for Safe Swim (review before each swimming activity)
  1. Qualified Supervisor
  2. Physical Fitness
  3. Safe Area
  4. Lifeguard on Duty
  5. Lookout
  6. Ability Groups
  7. Buddy System
  8. Discipline 

Cub Scout Sports Pin - Swimming

SWIMMING PIN

Printable Worksheet

Earn the Swimming belt loop and complete five of the following requirements:

  1. Practice the breathing motion of the crawl stroke while standing in shallow water. Take a breath, place your head in the water, exhale, and turn your head to the side to take a breath. Repeat.
  2. Learn and demonstrate two of the following strokes: crawl, backstroke, elementary backstroke, sidestroke, or breaststroke.
  3. Learn and demonstrate the following floating skills: prone, facedown float, and back float. The purpose of the float is to provide the swimmer the opportunity to rest in the water.
  4. Using a kickboard, demonstrate three kinds of kicks.
  5. Pass the “beginner” or “swimmer” swim level test.
  6. Visit with a lifeguard and talk about swimming safety in various situations (pool, lake, river, ocean). Learn about the training a lifeguard needs for his or her position.
  7. Explain the four rescue techniques: Reach, Throw, Row, and Go (with support).
  8. Take swimming lessons.
  9. Attend a swim meet at a school or community pool.
  10. Tread water for 30 seconds.
  11. Learn about a U.S. swimmer who has earned a medal in the Olympics. Tell your den or an adult family member what you learned about him or her.
  12. Demonstrate the proper use of a mask and snorkel in a swimming area where your feet can touch the bottom.

Cub Scout Belt Loop - Swimming

SWIMMING BELT LOOP

Printable Worksheet

Complete these three requirements:

  1. Explain the rules of Safe Swim Defense. Emphasize the buddy system.
  2. Play a recreational game in the water with your den, pack, or family.
  3. While holding a kick board, propel yourself 25 feet using a flutter kick across the shallow end of the swimming area.

Swimming Merit Badge

SWIMMING
  1. Discuss the prevention of and treatment for health concerns that could occur while swimming, including hypothermia, dehydration, sunburn, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, muscle cramps, hyperventilation, spinal injury, stings and bites, and cuts and scrapes.
  2. Do the following:
    1. Identify the conditions that must exist before performing CPR on a person. Explain how to recognize such conditions.
    2. Demonstrate proper technique for performing CPR using a training device approved by your counselor.
  3. Before doing the following requirements, successfully complete Second Class rank requirements 8a through 8c and First Class rank requirements 9a through 9c.
  4. Second Class rank requirements 8a through 8c:
    (8a) Tell what precautions must be taken for a safe swim.
    (8b) Demonstrate your ability to jump feetfirst into water over your head in depth, level off and swim 25 feet on the surface, stop, turn sharply, resume swimming, then return to your starting place.
    (8c) Demonstrate water rescue methods by reaching with your arm or leg, by reaching with a suitable object, and by throwing lines and objects. Explain why swimming rescues should not be attempted when a reaching or throwing rescue is possible, and explain why and how a rescue swimmer should avoid contact with the victim.
    First Class rank requirements 9a through 9c:
    (9a) Tell what precautions must be taken for a safe trip afloat.
    (9b) Before doing the following requirement, successfully complete the BSA swimmer test: Jump feetfirst into water over your head in depth, swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one or more of the following strokes: sidestroke, breaststroke, trudgen, or crawl; then swim 25 yards using an easy, resting backstroke. The 100 yards must be swum continuously and include at least one sharp turn. After completing the swim, rest by floating.
    (9c) With a helper and a practice victim, show a line rescue both as tender and as rescuer. The practice victim should be approximately 30 feet from shore in deep water.
  5. Demonstrate survival skills by jumping feetfirst into deep water wearing clothes (shoes, socks, swim trunks, long pants, belt, and long-sleeved shirt). Remove shoes and socks, inflate the shirt, and show that you can float using the shirt for support. Remove and inflate the pants. Swim 50 feet using the inflated pants for support, then show how to reinflate the pants while still afloat.
  6. Swim continuously for 150 yards using the following strokes in good form and in a strong manner: front crawl or trudgen for 25 yards, back crawl for 25 yards, sidestroke for 25 yards, breaststroke for 25 yards, and elementary backstroke for 50 yards.
  7. Do the following:
    1. Float faceup in a resting position for at least one minute.
    2. Demonstrate survival floating for at least five minutes.
    3. While wearing a properly fitted personal flotation device (PFD), demonstrate the HELP and huddle positions. Explain their purposes.
    4. Explain why swimming or survival floating will hasten the onset of hypothermia in cold water.
  8. In water over your head, but not to exceed 10 feet, do each of the following:
    1. Use the feetfirst method of surface diving and bring an object up from the bottom.
    2. Do a headfirst surface dive (pike or tuck), and bring the object up again.
    3. Do a headfirst surface dive to a depth of at least 5 feet and swim underwater for three strokes. Come to the surface, take a breath, and repeat the sequence twice.
  9. Do ONE of the following:
    1. Demonstrate snorkeling and scuba diving knowledge:
      1. Demonstrate selection and fit of mask, snorkel, and fins; discuss safety in both pool and open-water snorkeling.
      2. Demonstrate proper use of mask, snorkel, and fins for underwater search and rescue.
      3. Describe the sport of scuba diving or snorkeling, and demonstrate your knowledge of BSA policies and procedures relating to that sport.
      OR
    2. Demonstrate the following competitive swimming skills:
      1. Racing dive from a pool edge or dock edge (no elevated dives from racing platforms or starting blocks)
      2. Racing form for 25 yards on one competitive stroke (front crawl, back crawl, breaststroke, or butterfly)
      3. Racing turns for the stroke that you chose in 8b(2), OR, if the camp facilities cannot accommodate the racing turn, repeat 8b(2) with an additional stroke.
      4. Describe the sport of competitive swimming.
  10. Following the guidelines set in the BSA Safe Swim Defense, in water at least 7 feet deep, show a standing headfirst dive from a dock or pool deck. Show a long shallow dive, also from the dock or pool deck.
  11. Do the following:
    1. Explain the health benefits of regular aerobic exercise, and explain why many people today do not get enough of the beneficial kinds of exercise.
    2. Discuss why swimming is favored as both a fitness and a therapeutic exercise.
    3. Write a plan for a swimming exercise program that will promote aerobic/vascular fitness, strength and muscle tone, body flexibility, and weight control for a person of Scout age. Identify resources and facilities available in your home community that would be needed for such a program.
    4. Discuss with your counselor the incentives and obstacles for staying with the fitness program you identified in requirement 10c. Explain the unique benefits that could be gained from this program, and discuss how personal health awareness and self-discipline would relate to your own willingness and ability to pursue such a program.