I watched from behind a glass door as Nadia floundered in the pool for a few seconds. I had stepped outside to make a phone call and to give the girls and their swimming teacher some breathing room. Nadia had been waiting on a platform in the water with Simone and another child, while their teacher taught another student.
As I stood in the door, Nadia misjudged where she was on the platform, slipped off and sank to the bottom. A parent and another teacher walked to the edge of the pool and alerted Nadia’s teacher. Nadia surfaced, took in some air and then went under again. Her teacher then pulled her to the surface. It happened very fast. At no point did I feel the need to burst through the door and leap into the pool. As for Nadia, she didn’t cough, cry or even leave the pool. Instead she finished her lesson.
Simone and Nadia have been taking swimming lessons for more than a year because we once lived in Florida and know all to well the dangers of drowning. A few minutes after Nadia slipped under the water, I spoke with the owner of the swimming program. I told him I had watched the scene from behind the door and didn’t come running back inside because I didn’t want to scare Nadia. He thanked me for that. He also assured me he would talk to the teacher and make adjustments in the program to make sure no child would ever slip off a platform.
The other parents, though, didn’t share his sentiment. I read the lips of one of the mothers, who wondered, “Where’s mama?” I am here, watching, I wanted to tell her.
I was cool on the outside but suffocated by worry for the rest of the evening. We’re both fine now. I took her back to her lessons and told her to be sure to stay on the platform. She nodded and jumped in the water like nothing had happened.