Mimi Conner taught me how to swim. Of course, I’m seventeen years old, so that was many years ago, but I still remember one of my first lessons with her. It was held at her house, and I arrived early and watched two siblings learn how to swim on the deep end. The boy went for it, while the girl, let’s call her Tori, clung onto the pool’s edge. Mimi informed her with a well-meaning firmness that she would have to move at some point, or she, quite frankly, couldn’t go home. Tori pleaded and pleaded. I could tell that she was scared, but Mimi held her ground. Eventually, Tori let go of the wall and made it to the other side and back. She was probably mentally cursing at the situation then, but I’m sure she’s grateful for it now.
Mimi Conner has been teaching kids, adolescents, and adults in Plano how to swim for thirty years, and her main emphasis is on safety. Her website promises that her “firm but fair teaching style will instill confidence and teach the skills necessary to safely enjoy the water”. She is a certified water safety instructor with the American Red Cross. She also knows CPR, is a CPO (certified pool operator) and speaks often on water safety around the community.
When Summer rolls around, and we start jumping in the pool to cool off, it’s important to remember how to stay safe.
In 2017, 107 children and teens drowned in Texas alone. While summer 2018 is just starting, this number is already at 29.
Safety when swimming is critical. What does Mimi have to say?
Mimi Conner’s Water Safety Tips for Parents
- Fence in the pool. Make sure the fence is at least 4 feet tall, and avoid chainlink fences because they’re easier for kids to climb over.
- Install alarms on doors leading to the pool or alarms on the bottom of the pool that go off when something hits the water. Make sure you can hear the alarm from inside your house.
- Empty inflatable pools after each use.
- Remove ladders to pools when they’re not in use.
- Don’t leave toys floating in pools. Curious kids will climb into the water to retrieve them.
- Make sure your children LEARN how to swim!
- Have an Emergency Action Plan. Know who you will call if the need arises.
- Learn CPR.
- Beware of drains. They can pull children down by their hair.
- Don’t rely on pool noodles or inner tubes to keep your child safe. Instead, be a Water Watcher. At social gatherings, adults that know how to swim should take 15-20 minute shifts as the Water Watcher. These individuals should stay near the water and actively watch the swimmers. They should also remain alcohol-free and know CPR.
- Post up the pool rules (below) where they’re clearly visible.
Mimi Conner’s Pool Rules for Kids
- Never swim alone.
- Do not go in or near the pool without an adult’s permission.
- No running, pushing, or pulling.
- No glass around the pool.
- No eating or chewing gum in the pool.
- Wear sunscreen.
- If you see lightning, go inside.
Finally, whether you are a parent or a child, a middle-aged person or a teen or a senior citizen, take the Pool Safely Pledge. By pledging, you hold yourself accountable for not becoming a statistic. You can keep yourself and those you love from harm.
After watching Tori clinging to the edge of the pool, I admit that during my lesson, I did the same. I only realized I had a fear of drowning when I reached water deep enough I couldn’t stand in it. I found myself holding back tears. When I clung to the edge of the pool, Mimi made me let go. She said, “Come on. Did you see Tori before? You could be best friends. You can’t stay here.” She was half-joking, half-serious. She didn’t let me bob in the water where I was, and eventually, I let go. Thankfully, Mimi was behind me the whole time.