I have 4 young kids and really appreciate this video. My wife and I have tried to teach each of them to swim at an early age because drowning is SO SILENT! Once we were at a local park lake with my daughter who really young. She was in like 1-2 feet of water, and we were both within 5 feet of her watching as intently as possible. Suddenly a little girl playing next to her said something like "are you ok?" which made us look and see our daughter's face was underwater and she was drowning. The whole thing lasted like 10 seconds, but it was still really scary. I think we would have seen in time regardless, but the fact that we were trying to watch so closely and almost missed it was crazy.

You also have to be very careful when multiple kids are in the pool. Sometimes a kid who is a great swimmer can drown when another kid starts panicking and climbs on top of them to stay afloat.

Second on the "good swimmer drowning" part. I once swam in a pool with a few cousins of mine. I was around 18 and just finished a life guarding course at school. One cousin was around 11 years old.

She was panicking next to me in the pool all of a sudden and climbed on top of me. She wasn't heavy but her human effort to grab and exert pressure to use me as a float to stay above water forced me under. It was hard to get back up for air, and very sudden to which I didn't have a ton of air to begin with.

I remembered training, which was to pull the victim down with you to short circuit their brain into letting go, and it worked. I was able to swim out from her area, surface, catch a breath, and go help her to the shallow end.

"I remembered training, which was to pull the victim down with you to short circuit their brain into letting go,"

That's exactly how I was taught as part of lifesaving training along with the most effective way of swimming (and 'towing') the person to safety. BTW, that was many decades ago (presumably things haven't changed much since then). .

Another thing I've always wondered, why does it seem that all animals innately know how to swim, even young ones?

Maybe it is just that most have 4 legs and that helps, but I'd guess monkeys know how to swim too. Not sure. I mean even snakes know how to swim haha.

What makes people so bad at swimming? Our big heads?

I think its that most animal bodies are horizontal and thus float in a way that makes it trivial to keep their heads above water; in contrast to humans which have a bodyplan that requires constant stabilization to stay vertical, both on land and in water. It's the same reason baby animals can usually start walking minutes after being born while human babies require months to learn how to stand and walk in a stable manner
Some species like proboscis monkeys and crab-eating macaques know how to swim instinctively but most primates need to learn either through mimicry or trial and error. A lot of them try to avoid deep water even when they can swim (that's probably more a function of predator avoidance though).

I don't think humans are really bad at swimming, we just panic and splash around instead of kicking our feet like any other animal does.

Human babies can swim, kinda. But the instinctive version of swimming that comes preinstalled in our brains is not like riding a bike. It's something that we forget how to do if we don't practice, and then we have to re-learn it.
> What makes people so bad at swimming? Our big heads?

I never learned and never found the time to. But I'm pretty good at video games :)

Was looking at the videos and my main take away was : "Why do they allow these floatation devices in the pool?" If you cant swim and are short enough (basically most kids) why let you climb on that slippery ballon and go in the water? It's like giving kids knifes and let them in the bouncy castle.
If your kid can't swim you shouldn't let it go in on its own. There is no reason to spoil the fun for everyone.

You can ban all fun or tell parents to use common sense and have a backup for idiot parents.

In this specific pool I would also create a barrier/line between the shallow bit of the pool and the deep end. In some of the videos the kids end up in the deep end by just playing, even without the floating devices.

Also kids should be taught to swim at a young age. At least where I'm from there are many places where kids can fall into the water.

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> There is no reason to spoil the fun for everyone.

Except for the drowning

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People are seriously overprotective of any and all children.

Issit sad if a kid dies? Sure. Doesn't man you should isolate them from anything that could potentially harm them, as such babying is also harmful over the long run.

Maybe I'm missing this: what led to the statement that people are seriously overprotective of any and all children? This thread is pointing out that kids who can't swim are allowed in pools, which is dangerous and leads to preventable deaths. Isn't that the opposite of people being seriously overprotective?
We should require seatbelts in cars.

It should be your choice to wear one.

If your kid can't swim, it's your job to teach them or keep them safe. If you're not doing that, should it not be on you, that Childs parent, to deal with it?

Where does personal responsibility start, and social intervention begin? Autonomy, responsibility, individuality are the things that should be under discussion... Not save the children.

You might think that's harsh but add in privacy to the above list, and make the topic "searching all your pictures for CP" (as some laws are attempting to do) it suddenly becomes over-reach.

The extreme ends of the individual-collective continuum (complete lack of laws in favor of autonomy and personal responsibility vs. overbearing legal/regulatory intervention that undermines autonomy) make it clear that real life needs to be somewhere in the middle.
Seatbelts should be mandatory though. There's no legitimate reason not to wear one.

WHy is it your job, or any one else's, to tell someone what they should do for their own good?

Cars are unsafe we should ban them. People might drown we should mandate swimming lessons...

It's an arbitrary line, and why is one different than any other?

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> WHy is it your job, or any one else's, to tell someone what they should do for their own good?

The line isn't quiet as arbitrary as you make it sound. Itd be a different story if your health insurance wouldn't have to pay if you didn't wear it etc. There is also the extra inconvenience of having the road blocked for extended periods of time whenever someone offs themselves etc.

Pretty much every personal safety regulation happens because other people are getting impacted/inconvenienced in some way

The root comment said to not allow floating devices in pools with children that can't swim, but only clarified the condition in the latter sentence. The first response (mis-)interpreted it as "do not allow floating devices period" and argued against that, with the discussion getting sidetracked from them on.
That is not suffering and you should be embarrassed to type like that.
You are assigning an arbitrary minimum value of suffering to the term "suffering".

That is needless. Suffering a tiny little bit from losing the option to play with floatation devices is still suffering.

I think it's also not just about kids who can't swim falling off floaties, but also that the floaties will hide a drowning child.
I don't know why this was downvoted, this is very accurate.
Any public pool worth visiting (in the US) has strict rules about only allowing coastguard-approved flotation devices. These devices are designed to allow an unconscious child to float face up. Which means fuck-all if they're already stuck under a float.

Floats in public pools are a Bad Thing, I completely agree.

Source: lifeguard through highschool and college.

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If the pool staff is obsessive enough to check your float's USCG approval, it's probably not going to be any fun. It may be happening because you have a critical mass of bad swimmers trying to drown or because the lifeguards are the fun police, but in either case it's not a very good pool.

Source: fun police in high school and now have young children -- highly supervised pools are a bummer.

I mean, checking for a USCG seal on a float takes about 3 seconds.

And the rules are mostly, don’t run, don’t dunk someone else.

In defense of the parents, I think a lot of drownings are people who can swim, but not very confidently, and get into the panic response described at the link and end up being unable to recover without outside help. I've seen this happen to both children and adults.
When I was about 10, I was able to swim but I was not great at it.

For some reason (I think someone dived just in front of me), I needed to stop swimming and ended "vertical" in the water. It was quite unusual for me at the time. For a moment, I tried to go back to swim horizontally on the belly, without success. Then tried on the back, no success either. After a few tries, I began panicking like it is said the the video: I was just climbing an invisible ladder... A guard finally helped me reach the border of the pool and that was over.

After that, I tried to put me under the same circumstances: vertical in the water, 2 m from the border. And then convert to horizontal swimming. Every time it was easy. To this day, I still have no clue why I was not able to do that

the brainstem probably takes over, which will disconnect the rational, logical part of your brain from your extremities.

i'll just comment my comment here instead of crapping up the entire thread. I went through about 20 videos and only missed two because the site assured me the person who the lifeguard rescued was "splashing around". My median time was -5s, with an upper bound (probably site limited) of -15s. The videos are just a toy, though. You know someone is going to need rescue, and probably about 10 seconds in. I was picking the people who looked like they'd need help. I'd make a great lifeguard but it would be because i'd point and yell at people to get out of the deep end 30 seconds before they even had any issues.

I learned to swim at 5-8 or so, and from 10-15 we spent summers swimming in the pacific ocean. I never had to be rescued during that time. I went swimming with a bunch of friends at Huntington Beach directly after a sewage leak into the ocean near there and they had put bleach into the water. I have asthma, so when i crossed the "can't touch the ground" part of the undertow and had an asthma attack, i yelled at a friend "get a lifeguard, i won't be able to get back to shore" - he relayed that on and then came to make sure i didn't "freak out". The lifeguard did have to tow dead weight, though, i couldn't move due to lack of breathing - not breathing water.

It is good to know that i can watch a decent sized group of people in inner tubes swimming and notice if one is struggling.

And the parents not knowing this distinction. "My kid can swim" can mean any number of things. They rely on their kid being able to swim even marginally and expect the lifeguards to be infallible. It's sort of to be expected because most people in general do not have extensive experience nor basic training when it comes to being in or on water.
Don't swimming courses have a test at the end?

That's how it works in the Netherlands. Kids get level A first, then B etc. They must pass the test at the end. Level A is basically normal above water swimming. B requires certain distances of under water swimming. Higher levels include swimming with full clothes on and swimming out from under a larger plastic thing with a hole they "fell through" to simulate typical water emergencies.

Swimming courses in the US only test swimming under normal conditions, in a pool with a swim suit. To get tested for ability in adverse conditions you need special courses which some orgs like the boy scouts offer.

What's really crazy is how easy the minimum requirements even for Red Cross lifeguard training are. When I did it, the "hardest" swimming qual was something like swimming 500 meters. That really should be table stakes for merely calling yourself a swimmer.

500m is 5 back and forth olympic pool. This is something.

I used to swim for my high school team. I learned to hate pools. Now I want to get back to vary the physical activity (thanks god for the headsets you can wear in the water)

500m is what I plan to ultimately do, for many people who "can swim" this is already a lot.

If you're a lifeguard in a body of water with currents, 500m is not a lot. You can swim a long distance without moving much realtive to the shore.
GP mentioned Red Cross lifeguard training which is specific to pools. They also have waterfront lifeguard training for lakes and rivers, but ocean lifeguards fighting significant currents go through a much harder certification done by other organizations like the United States Lifesaving Association.

It's much more strenuous and far fewer people make it through, thanks in part to the physical requirements.

Ah sorry, I missed the lifeguard part. I thought this was for regular swimmers. Apologies.
There aren't any official universal tests that I know of. Different trainers might give a certificate, but most of it is very informal in the US. The standards are extremely low.

Organizations like BSA have different courses and tend to certify their members by different levels for what privileges they have in the water. The Red Cross and YMCA have the most recognized certifications, mostly for their lifeguard courses.

If you want a good idea of how much of a joke the standards are in the US, the basic test to be in the Navy is only a deep water jump, 50 yard swim, and 5 minutes prone float. Most other branches don't even have a swim test requirement.

It doesn't help that most adults only have marginal swimming skills, so their basis for judging the skills of their kid is biased by their own inability.
Because slippery ballon is super fun for kids who can swim.
Until someone else falls head-first off the balloon, smashes your kid on the back of their head, and they both drown.
At some point, when you are figuring out increasingly unlikely accidents, maybe you should stop.
A more likely danger is that a non swimmer is drowning and grabs onto another child and drags them underwater or tries to climb on top of them. This is a known danger and is a standard part of lifeguard training in the US. Drowning persons can be very dangerous to other people and to rescuers. So a drowning child can definitely endanger other kids.
I was a lifeguard for a decade bud, I’ve seen it all.

Maybe you should stop being a dick.

Cmon, we're not considering nuclear war and drowning in the radiation soaked pool ?
Based on https://what-if.xkcd.com/29/ I tend to think that a pool would be safer than out of the water in the event of radiation being a problem:)
Many pools do not allow them, likely for this reason.
Indeed. All the pools around here that I've been to have a simple rule: All kids old enough to walk and unable to swim must wear (not just hold) floatation devices at all times. Also when not in the water. And also when in shallow water.

Only exception is during swimming lessons, and those are with a swimming instructor right there with them in the water.

Not all pools allow them. At first I wondered why, and eventually figured it out.
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Most pools I’ve been to in Canada normalize wearing life jackets for small kids.

Even if your kid is capable, most people don’t hesitate to throw one on just in case.

Good point.
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Swimming seems to be at least partly a cultural thing. In the Philippines, I'm regularly surprised by the number of people who say they can't swim. A handful of videos is a small sample, but it seems to be a similar situation here where 5 out of the first 6 videos I watched were black kids. Being a lifeguard in a high risk area would be too stressful for me. I'm stressed just watching these videos. Big respect to watchful heroes saving the day for these kids.
"Swimming seems to be at least partly a cultural thing."

I was brought up in Australia and I was taught to swim earlier than I can remember. My mother would take me to the beach grab hold of my swimming costume from behind and get me to dog-paddle around the age I learned to walk. This was not unusual when I was growing up, most of the kids at school were reasonably good swimmers by the age of eight.

Also, early on we were taught to recognize rip currents and told to keep well away from them—they looked seductively harmless but are in fact very dangerous.

When I was about seven we moved to a country town about 100 miles or so from the beach but it had a swimming pool. There too the kids were good swimmers, much better than I expected as they had grown up without access to a beach.

That background leads me to my point: whenever we hear of someone being drowned at our beaches and rivers it is so often either a vising tourist or some migrant who was born overseas and did not learn to swim at an early age. For local people of my generation who were brought up as I was this cultural difference is striking obvious.

Pools are part of the culture in all parts of Australia. Even the outback. It's just so warm all the time that pools make sense everywhere. If there's pools everywhere it means people are scared (or excited) and teach their kids to swim.
Part of the culture and part of the school curriculums in all states. Swimming classes, swimming as a sport and swim carnivals are offered at various grades throughout primary and secondary school.
Yeah but did that come before people started being able to build pools? Probably? For the beach maybe, but people wouldn't have been learning to swim inland til pools were popular I reckon.
Black people being unable to swim is a trope in the United States, to the point of being a racist joke. There's some truth to it - black neighborhoods were less likely to have amenities like public pools, and black families were generally less able to afford paid swimming lessons for their children.
A great many older US communities had public swimming pools, they were segregated and black children were kept out.

Come the era of civil rights a good number of these pools were closed down and filled in rather than allow mixed race swimming.

"White flight", redlining, and other economic pressures worked to keep new community pools coming into place in black neighbourhoods.


> and black families were generally less able to afford paid swimming lessons for their children.

Nearly everbody I know swims, black, white, etc. but I'm not sure very many had paid swimming lessons.

With accessable pools and beaches the swimming part comes along with people being in the water.

Many years ago when I was a teenager I worked as a swimming instructor. In my experience, most black kids were terrified of the water and getting them over that fear was vital for teaching them to swim. Some white kids were similarly terrified, but not as many. It was something like 8 in 10 vs 2 in 10. I don't have an explaination for it.
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I can swim (to the nearest shore), but “getting over that fear” sounds absurd to me. You’re one breath, one cramp, one fishing net away from slow spasmatic death and you should ignore that for some reason. Yeah, sure. The explanation is easy, you stop moving correctly, you die. That is stressful. Swimming is free soloing in water, a somehow normalized dangerous activity. My words would sound funny if most of us didn’t know someone who drowned or almost drowned.
There's rational fear, which is more a sort of respect I think, which seems to be what you're talking about. But with young kids there is often a sort of phobia sort of fear where they refuse to get into the water, refuse to dunk their head under the water, or refuse to let go of the side of the pool even when somebody is holding them. We spent a lot of time trying to coax kids through this sort of fear.

If their fear kept them away from water forever, it would serve them well enough I guess... the problem is, if you don't get kids swimming young then when they get older they will probably push through the fear on their own to fit in during social situation rather than in an instructional context where somebody is prepared to help them through the learning process safely. That's how you get teenagers jumping into pools during pool parties and immediately starting to drown.

"...most black kids were terrified of the water..."

At what age did the training start? I reckon training must have started far too late (read my comment about me getting used to the water about the same time I learned to walk).

There were different age groups, the youngest were infants with their parents but the classes I was involved with started at ages 4-5 iirc. These were all an out of school program, I wasn't involved with the swimming lessons given to everybody during school (same pool and head instructor though) but those started at first grade. The kids I taught were all signed up by their parents at whatever age the parents signed them up at.
Hum, 4-5 you'd think would be young enough. So I wonder what could cause such a cultural shift. I'd be interested to know whether the parents of those scared kids could swim (if they couldn't then that could be the problem).

I've not thought about it before because over here one just assumes someone can swim (with the caveat/possible exception of some tourists and migrants).

You'd think the first step in solving the problem would be to figure out why kids here take easily to water and the ones your way less so. Perhaps the answer is known and I've just not heard about it.

Racist joke or not, that's a terrible situation.

I understand how the lack of amenities, public pools etc., would seriously disadvantage kids and would set back their leaning to swim. What is less clear is why families would actually need to pay for swimming lessons. When I was growing up in Australia swimming was so ubiquitous that what we kids didn't learn from our parents we almost picked up by osmosis — immersion with other kids in the water, etc.

That's not to say kids weren't taught, they were but by that time most kids already had basic water skills, dog-paddling, treading water etc. Thus teaching was aimed at perfecting the correct stroke for the different swimming styles, the crawl, breaststroke, backstroke, sidestroke, etc. and it was taught at school. The thought of paying for swimming lessons would have been completely foreign to most of us (professional swimming teachers would have been reserved for those in competition such as the Olympics).

Why isn't swimming a compulsory part of school sport? If it were then all kids would be taught at least the basics.

Public pools are not as ubiquitous and evenly distributed in the US as they are in Australia. Australian pools are largely outdoors, have longer opening months (ie are more profitable) and dont have to be winterised like they would be in North America.
Is it a trope, racist joke, or simply a statistic that needs to be known for the safety? According to CDC, child drowning victims are 3:1 blacK

>>Every day, there are nearly 10 accidental drownings in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s 3,500 people every year who die in water. Within these numbers is a startling fact: the fatal-drowning rate of Black/African-American children is three times higher than white children.

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>child drowning victims are 3:1 blacK

Careful, your source says that the rate, not the number, is 3x. There are some stats where it is actually 3x the raw number, in which case you know you have found a really crazy disparity given different group sizes.

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It can be all of the above.
In an effort to drive equity we have stopped building public pools in Washington state so all children can drown equally thereby fixing the racial disparity.
what's the background here? seems like a simple explanation for a complex phenomenon
The historical association with racism and redlining was one of the justifications for killing planned pool updates and construction in Seattle. As such Seattle has very limited public pool capacity and access.
My anecdote is a few years ago the diving boards on the north side of Green Lake in Seattle were closed because the south side of the lake was "poorer" and couldn't maintain theirs, so to make things even they closed the north side diving boards. At least, this is what the lifeguards explained to me.
Basically this. The easiest way to obtain equity is to just to match everyone to the lowest level of service. The schools are trying to do the same thing.
How are the schools trying to do the same thing? Got some links?
Seattle is closing cohort schools, which are essentially schools that allow gifted children to skip ahead in curriculums.

> The district counters that the old model of cohort schools for highly capable students is highly inequitable. For decades, highly capable programs across the country, like SPS’, served a small number of Black, Latino, Indigenous, Alaskan and Pacific Islander and low-income students and taught more white and Asian students. In the 2022-23 school year, 52% of highly capable students at SPS were white, 16% were Asian, and 3.4% were Black.


That’s the big one but this also happens in lower level classroom environments. School and teacher achievement at the inner district is graded on how many kids meet the minimum bar. Any kid that meets the minimum bar can simply be ignored in the classroom and teaching resources are focused on the lower 50% so high achieving kids get mostly ignored
Wow, our selective schools in Sydney Australia are also highly unbalanced, over 80% over from non english speaking backgrounds (mostly Asian heritage). I've never heard political or social will to get rid of them though
It is, in my opinion, the natural outcome of striving for equality over liberty, which is top of mind in Seattle’s political climate. While it can come sincerely, the actual result of these pursuits is that those with the means and the abilities to advance are retarded to that of the lowest common denominator.
Isn't swimming taught in schools?
Only in some countries. It isn't taught in Canadian public schools, or at least not in my province (Québec). Education in Canada is mostly provincial, so it's possible other provinces have swimming lessons. I doubt it, though.
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The best filter, when I worked at a pretty low-wealth public pool, was when someone tried to wear a shirt into the pool. It was a filter that cut across socio-economic (couldn't afford swimming clothes), physical (out of shape), and personality (low confidence).

We never let shirts into the pool, and then you made a mental note to watch for that person. Realistically, though, you spent much more time fishing out the confident , in-shape (or at least not fat) kids who bee-lined for the diving boards without any apparent plan for the time starting after they hit the water.

I'm assuming your in the US when you talk about the black kids. How much do you think US segregation on racial lines in the 20th century has an impact on this?
This is irrelevant for safety, the parent is talking about a child population potentially more at risk. A lifeguard's job is not sociology or history.
A lifeguard being there at all, however, is one.
I think everyone should spend ten minutes watching these videos. I did this once eight years ago and now the "look" is so burned into my brain that I can't unsee it. I have kids now and I am glad I could possibly spot this. The lifeguards are WAY faster but it's better than not seeing this at all.
Back in my youth, I worked as a lifeguard. It was at a pretty swank pool with a community that had an active swim team, so I didn't have a lot of trouble.

But lifeguards somehow find each other, and I knew several who worked at the local waterpark, and their jobs were way, way harder. No deaths during that time, but a lot of close calls. It's quite a thing to be 16-17 and have that pattern recognition stored, and it sticks with you.

Well worth the time to watch these videos. It's not quite the same, but it's close enough.

> I have kids now and I am glad I could possibly spot this.

We have three kids and I struggle to watch videos of stuff like this.

No drownings in the family, thank $deity, but we've had a fairly lengthy string of medical incidents over the years.

Let's just say I could probably find my way to and around both our local hospital, and the big city hospital an hour away, while blindfolded.

If it helps, the videos are of kids being rescued mere seconds after showing drowning signs. Watching these gives you very quick training on what those signs are, in a way that images or instructional pamphlets can't.
I have two boys, went to the ER so many times for stitches, sprains, and other things when they were small I felt like we should have got loyalty rewards.
It is a figure of speech and surely was not disrespectful to blind people.
Except that a person who is literally blind found it disrespectful.

People say all sorts of stupid stuff that they don’t intend to be disrespectful but which is. When it’s pointed out by someone the appropriate response is to change your behavior, not double down and make excuses.

Here’s another example: In my state (MN) it’s not uncommon for (largely) women to refer to themselves as hunting widows when their spouses go away for the weekend to hunt during the season. They say it as a joke but it’s disrespectful and diminishing to actual widows. How do I know? I’ve been widowed.

I've personally tested my ability to "drive by feel" on a road i travel at least once a day on average for the past 12 years. Like, new moon, no headlights or parking lights. It's all farmland and fences and curves, with no foglines or detents to let you know when you're straying out of the lane.

I couldn't do it in an emergency unless somehow i was in 100% beta brainwave mode (i think), but it isn't really hyperbole. Obviously if a deer or a tree or a brick or something was in the road i'd run straight into it, but that happens tops (TOPS!) two, maybe three times a week.

ETA: also if you've ever seen military vehicles with their no-show lights, it's not hard to fathom that some people can drive with next to no visual clues.

> When it’s pointed out by someone the appropriate response is to change your behavior, not double down and make excuses.

Actually, the HN response is to reflexively hit downvote to silence the blind guy, to keep the world of the offender clean and nice. I kind of expected better from the "Hacker Community", however, I continue to learn that I am pretty fuckin naiv.

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What are the outcomes of the drownings? I don't think I have the mental stability to watch kid after kid die for 10 minutes.
These seem to be (based on two) lifeguard rescue videos. 30 seconds of lots of kids in a pool, lifeguard jumps in and swims to a person you were not able to spot needed help, and then they help that person back up safely.
Ah thanks.

Watched a couple of videos. I made the mistake of focusing too much on kids playing with the head underwater and lingering on them. You really have to focus everywhere.

But damn the life guards seem good.

By "drowning" they mean "displaying the instinctive responses to perceived difficulty maintaining breathing in the water"

I haven't watched all of them. So far no one has drowned. For a variety of ethical and legal reasons I very much doubt any reputable organisation would put a video of a fatal drowning on their site.

Your statement is technically correct, which everyone knows is the best kind of correct.
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I don't understand your point. I watched several and each showed someone who was drowning. There was nothing in the title that suggested that they would show fatal drownings.
In the 5 or so videos I watched they were all rescued!

The app seems to be timing your response relative to response of a lifeguard: negative seconds if you noticed before a lifeguard jumps into the water, otherwise positive.

They don't drown/die. There is an instinctive response to not being able to keep oneself over water that has certain "look". The videos show busy pools and you basically try to find Waldo before the lifeguard pulls them out.
Is this only a kids thing? I'm a terrible swimmer and very dense (on fresh water my head will be completely underwater even with the lungs full), and had to be rescued once on the verge of hypothermia on an ebb tide and I was able to call for help.
It seems like you weren’t quite in the act of drowning, which is indeed an excellent time to call for help.
I think there is another element at play in these videos: in addition to being well-trained and paying attention, these lifeguards also know these kids.

I think they recognize some of the kids and are on alert-- in at least one video, the lifeguard jumps in a mere 2 seconds after the kid slides off the float, and there are others that are similarly fast. Of course, it could also be that they happened to be looking at just the right time. However, in the 2-second one, the lifeguard turns to look at someone below them who splashes, then turns straight back to the section of the pool with the kid who then slides off, and in she jumps.

In some cases I would guess that they either know the regular kids, or they've been watching and gradually adding/removing kids from a mental list of high-risk candidates to keep an eye on. In other words, their excellent response times are aided by both their ability to recognize the signs as well as context gained throughout the summer or that day.

I watched a few videos and found myself analyzing how good swimmers each were and got a lot better at spotting danger by noting who looked good and checking on them less often. So I don't think you need to KNOW the kids over multiple visits, but just constantly scanning for and assessing skill level.
I agree, there are some that appear more competent and others that seem less so. Granted, all are capable of panicking and needing assistance, but prioritizing does look like an effective strategy.
i did about 20 and in a couple of the "2 second" ones i had already clicked the person the lifeguard rescued 2 or 3 times before they fell off. My best time was -15s.

This would be a lot more interesting if there were videos where the lifeguard did not need to jump in, or where you had to pick within 4 or 5 seconds who you thought would need rescuing - the site didn't support this, per the "2 second" style ones i was clicking the obvious child repeatedly before the "game" decided to score it.

Whoa! I didn't even realize the page is like a game! I was just watching them like embedded YouTube videos, not understanding that I could click on the video to see if I was correct and getting a score.
It's a different video each time. Refresh the page to try again. It's important in my opinion, I never would have thought that the drowning instinct is part of the problem - it silences any panic response that would grab the attention of people nearby.
Sometimes they don't even manage to make splashes and it looks like they're just stationary when in fact they're an impending sinking stone in under 30s.

I was once called out by a lifeguard about that, as I was just chilling there enjoying my own stillness in a moment of zen; the lifeguard essentially pointed out that for them it was a false positive they had to weed out, and if I wanted to be helpful I could still enjoy zenness but assume a slightly different position that made it a bit more obvious I was not a case of drowning.

As teenagers, we had a diving competition. Stay underwater for as long as possible.

Of course we saved energy by being perfectly still and 'floating' beneath the pool's metal entrance stair case — as opposed to wasting energy pushing our bodies downwards.

Let's just say the lifeguard didn't like this method.

My siblings and I were avid swimmers and enjoyed diving to the bottoms of lakes and swimming around. The deepest I ever dove unassisted was 47 feet (in the ocean). Starting when I was 8 or so, we'd practice holding our breath in the bathtub as we floated face down and motionless. My record was about 2.5 minutes. I think my brother made it to 3.5 minutes. It must have been terrifying to my mom. She was clearly keeping a close eye on us, as she'd periodically tap us on our shoulders when we'd been under for an appreciable amount of time and we'd gently wave at her with our hand to let her know we were alright.

I'm going to be a parent in a few months. I hope my kid takes to the water like I did, but would prefer their interests in water activities aren't quite as nerve wracking.

I didn’t know so much about the instinctive drowning response, thanks. I was a competent swimmer before I formed conscious memories and have never experienced anything like that. I have done a few water rescues but it was a clear case of someone in the water not being able to swim at all and was over quickly. I guess panic is a core feature of this response?
Yes, panic is a large part of the problem. I think I recall the feeling once, when my dad was teaching me to swim around 4 or 5. I think I tried to stand up, and just sunk, then I tried to pull myself up, and grasped at water. I figure at that point my dad just plucked me out of the water and told me to try again haha
The poor video quality makes it artificially difficult to see. I can barely see the faces of even the people in the front.
This is one of test for red cross lifeguard training. However in real life it is much better to spot drowning victims than video.
Yeah having a perspective that is so different from the lifeguard does make it really hard.
This is likely perspective you have while also browsing HN on your phone. That's the whole point - it's really hard to spot one unless you are looking for him, have training and are positioned properly.
Being distracted by your phone and not seeing a drowning child is different from paying close attention to a low-res 2D image and not seeing a drowning child. You can't fully train for one by practising the other.
skill issue
Every time I see this page, I wonder WTF we (USA) don't provide basic swimming lessons to all kids. Being able to swim competently seems like a basic life skill to me.
I'm more perplexed that the parents of these kids let them go in the pool.
"They have a floaty thing, they'll be fine."

"That's why we have lifeguards."

Etc. They probably don't know any better - that's how they learned to "swim" and they didn't die, so here we are.

Until 1988, my college (Georgia Tech) used to mandate a required course for the entire student body called Drownproofing[0][1] :)

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drownproofing

[1] https://www.isye.gatech.edu/news/surviving-drownproofing-101

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Some US school districts (grades 1-6?) used to make it mandatory parts of their cirriculum, have weekly or biweekly trips to a local aquatic center.
How would that work exactly? At what age would it start? How would it be organized? Would parents need to consent?
Others have pretty well covered it, as it's a normal part of the primary-school curriculum in much of Western Europe.

At minimum, I'd love to see survival swimming, treading water, basic pool safety in kindergarten (age 5).

We could also add the above to Head Start - that gets pool safety done earlier for disadvantaged kids (who are less likely to get it from their parents). Most of my peers start pool activities when their kids are infants and continue through swim team in primary school, but that's a very middle-class thing and costs a good bit of money/time.

In the Netherlands all kids have to learn to swim, and are taught during elementary school. There's various levels, the 3rd (IIRC) being able to navigate an underwater "obstacle course" while in school clothing and even with a backpack (I guess in case they fall into the canals on their way back from school). The obstacle course is something like just squeezing through a generously wide hole.
Like all other mandatory education, school. Works fine in the UK:

> All children should be able to swim 25m by the end of primary school


Swimming lessons in school, from age 8 or so, organized like any other education (every second or third gym lesson in a couple of semesters was how it worked for me), and no need for consent?

Pretty sure that's how it works in most countries that have public swimming education.

It's part of PE (phys.ed) here. It was just like any other class - one morning a week for one school year, you're dragged off down the muni pool.
We had this our freshman year of high school (NYC suburb, USA).

Perhaps I'm biased from growing up in a coastal town where swimming was a very popular competitive sport and lots of people had boats, but teaching kids in middle or high school is WAY too late IMO, this stuff needs to be taught at a much younger age - like 4-5 years of age.

I'm from a suburb in the middle of the country and our highschool had its own pool. IIRC it was 2-3 weeks of gym class each year.
Hmm - I must have got an obvious one where the drowning child started flailing his arms desperately trying to stay above water, splashing a lot, which isn't what people do according to the description.
I think this is obvious to some people and non-obvious to others. For example, look at all the people in the video who didn’t rescue the kid.

source: I was once the only person, out of plenty adults outside a pool watching, to notice that one of the two people in the pool was struggling to keep their head up. This includes the kid’s mom, who was giving the kid vaguely encouraging suggestions from outside the pool. I thought it was obvious, apparently no one else around did, and I’ve never had any lifeguard training.

Interestingly, the other person in the pool was the kid’s older brother. He also thought the kid needed rescuing, but he wasn’t nearly a good enough swimmer to help, and he was starting to get into trouble himself by trying to help pull the kid to the side of the pool.

I was drowning once when I was 5 or 6 years old, before I learned how to swim. It was exactly as described, I felt paralyzed, couldn't make any noise at all, I was terrified and was just trying to keep my mouth above the water. Thankfully some adult spotted me and dragged me out. Now that I have 2 kids, 4 and 8, whenever I take them to the beach, I never take my eyes off of them when they are in the water.
Beach safety is no joke. Everyone should check the local beach condition forecast before going in (or near!) the water, and everyone, even the little kids should learn about beach safety and should learn to swim.

In the Bay Area (and the West Coast of North America in general), people should be aware of the existence and hazards of sneaker waves as well as the general hazards of large sections of beautiful coastline. The Bay Area and, especially, areas near and north of the Golden Gate, have some infamously dangerous beaches that look inviting and should absolutely not be used for swimming.

I'd be.. much more concerned with a rip current than a sneaker wave. (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuAlDTC_gIQ for how to spot a rip)
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Funnily enough, I was taught how to spot rip currents by guys who thought they were a good thing. I was probably nine or so, and they were college students, showing me how to body surf. We spent a couple of hours jumping into a rip, riding it out, swimming out of it, and riding waves back in. Move down the beach to the next break, rinse, repeat. It mystified me for years afterwards when people would talk about rip currents like they were dangerous. I mean... What?

I get why people get into trouble. I do think the advice to Don't Panic might sink in more easily if rip currents weren't generally talked about like they're instant death.

I've inadvertently floated into one a few times. Once, with a friend who was a better swimmer than I was - I can't remember whether he said it or I did - the moment he grokked that we were in a rip current he started to panic like we were definitely going to drown. Once he calmed down we easily swam out of it.

The real danger is that someone who isn't a confident swimmer will be pulled out of their depth, or that someone who may be will end up in waves they're not capable of handling. In both cases, realistic skill assessment and a conservative approach is key. Poor swimmers use floatation. No one swims when the waves are more than they can manage. Follow those rules, and rip currents needn't be scary, and can even be fun.

I think that, in general, a current that pulls you somewhere that you’re not prepared to go can be dangerous. If you’re ready for a swim several hundred feet offshore from the beach, and a current pulls you there, fine (as long as you are really prepared, which involves knowing how to swim out of the current and back to shore). Having a big floaty thing like a surfboard helps, too.

If the rip current pulls you into a big current that takes you away from the beach, you might have a problem. If you’re a beginning swimmer who can’t swim a few hundred feet in open water, then you may also have a problem. If you have a boogie board, and you rely on it, and you lose the boogie board, you may also have a problem.

Many of the swimmers at your average tourist beach are not competent open water swimmers and may be helpless even 50 feet out. A rip current is a severe hazard for them.

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Thank you for expanding the reasoning in my final paragraph. I agree entirely.

I'm a reasonably strong swimmer, and played in the surf for most of my young life - which is exactly why I often stay on the beach looking like a fuddy-duddy to a lot of people who don't realize what they're (potentially) getting themselves into.

Me too. I’d put rip currents in the general category of beach safety, though, along with paying attention to incoming waves when you’re in range of them, being aware of safe places to exit the water, being aware of tides, etc.

Sneaker waves are among the unusual location-specific risks that are why one should research the specific beach before playing there.

LOL this is exactly what happened to me. I was at a pool with the gradual slope into the deep-end and I fuckedaroundandfoundout and drifted down the slope. It's probably my most vivid memory. I tried screaming for the life guard but like you I couldn't physically make sounds or vocalize. I somehow managed to dogpaddle to the ledge, right under the life guard, but she was zoned out and wearing some sombrero hat with large bug-eyed sunglasses. At that point I just gave up and lost my grip on the ledge and drifted back into the deep end and sank. I got to the point in drowning process where you're not afraid or panicking and you start to feel this sudden tranquility. My idiot parents (they were young) managed to fish me out of the deep end before I went to the other side and for some odd reason the pool gave me a little basketball (1980s)...I taught both my kids how to swim by just getting them comfortable in the water and teaching them how to kick. Teaching them how to ride bikes was honestly more challenging.
I was invited to a birthday party to a swimming hall and couldn't swim. Nobody admits that. So i walked off, got into the warm, outside bubble pool, that had a sloping floor, and walked in, on my toes. Then the foot slipped. Almost drowned, saved by an adult.
Same thing happened to me when I was 5 or 6. I was at a neighbors swimming pool in the shallow end but it had a very steep slope to the deep end, got a little too close and down I went. No one noticed, sounds strange but like the videos show, it happens. Another kid, a teen at the time, ran from inside the house jumped over a table and dove in and pulled me out. Heh he was treated like the hero he was for the rest of the day by the grown ups.
Its good to still be here. Nice of you to hang around too. Somewhere is a guy, who has my name on his belt.
Having kids and seeing that made me cry.
I got one with flailing and splashing, so it was pretty easy to spot: https://www.youtube.com/embed/aQ6h8U-rqZ4

For the record, I watched a young girl start to drown. She walked out a little too far and couldn't touch the bottom anymore. She kept trying to bounce up and get breaths of air but couldn't keep her head above the water for long. There was no splashing, and she couldn't call out for help properly because she was barely getting enough air.

I don't think anybody other than me noticed it happening until I rushed out to save her.

I think it's the third or fourth time I see it (not on this website) and I've actually gotten really good at it by now! I don't know if I've trained myself to spot drowning people or specifically these drowning people though
Would anyone be willing to explain the take-away points from these videos/how to spot someone who is drowning? I would love to be educated about this, but I don't have the stomach to actually watch these right now...
> I would love to be educated about this, but I don't have the stomach to actually watch these right now...

Understandable. Maybe it helps if I tell you that no one dies in the videos. They are all rescued by a lifeguard.

There is this article which describes the same content: https://slate.com/technology/2013/06/rescuing-drowning-child...

But if you just want the gist of it: Drowning people can't shout for help. They can't raise their arms and wave. They typically spread their arms forward on the surface of the water and kind of bob up and down, but their mouth and nose doesn't go above the water long enough to finish a complete breath in-out cycle.

The main takeaway is that, unless you are trained for it (like lifeguards are) and actively looking for the signs, you will probably not spot someone drowning, even if they are right next to you.

Someone drowning isn't at all like pictured in movies. Those videos aim to dispel that, and maybe teach you some of the signs of someone drowning, and also that you should watch your kids closely when they're at the pool.

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The tip is to look for the ones with the floating devices. They're the ones likely to not be able to swim. Then look for when the child leaves or has that device flipped over.
video number 10 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-EKqLdbysk) was drastically harder than the others, I couldn't even see the lifeguard jumping in at the end initially.

First two refreshes of the page loaded it so I thought it was the fixed first video

My main takeaway is that I would be a terrible lifeguard: I watched five different videos and spotted zero drowning children.
Like I can't even tell if the clicks are working and there is no answer!!!??? Is this just a gimmick?
In most video's you see the lifeguard jump in and get the person out.
That looked exactly like what I would expect. What was I supposed to think drowning looks like?
You're supposed to think it looks like someone shouting "Help! Help! I can't swim!" while effectively moving their arms to create splashing that is easily discernible from all of the other commotion going on in the pool.
Reading some of the comments it seems you get a different video each time and I just happened to get one that does look exactly like what I would expect and what you described.
Not to be that guy but this is the sort of thing I could imagine might benefit from an AI also. Train an AI to recognize drowning, and sound an alarm just in case the lifeguard misses it...
And shine a spotlight on the drowning person
send a drone that can also be used as a flotation device or use a pneumatic cannon to send a flotation device
How to get more than one click without restarting? ANd how to to see the answer?
In most videos, there'll be a whistle-blow that marks the point where the life guard in the video reacts to the drowning person. Upon clicking the right location, you are "graded" based on how quickly relative to the life guard you reacted. You get the "answer" by looking at who is getting rescued.

In my case, it started with a video that appears to be broken (?) the video just ended without any life guard reaction, but you can hit "Play Another Video" which appears afterwards.

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Previous HN posts with sufficient conversation:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22482731 (4 years ago)

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9962185 (9 years ago)

also OP posted same link 2 days ago.

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Thanks! Macroexpanded:

Spot the Drowning Child - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26122952 - Feb 2021 (1 comment)

Spot the Drowning Child (2015) - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22482731 - March 2020 (405 comments)

Show HN: Spot the Drowning Child - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9962185 - July 2015 (378 comments)


Btw, on a couple other points:

> also OP posted same link 2 days ago

It was the same link; it just got picked for the second-chance pool (https://news.ycombinator.com/pool, explained at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26998308), so it got a random placement on HN's front page.

> sufficient conversation

Reposts are fine on HN after a year or so! This is in the FAQ: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsfaq.html.

it isn't clear this is a "click the kid" thing at first maybe add like a one-line instruction above the video
I can't find the drowning child. The comments for the youtube videos are even disabled. Some more tries, but then I'll give up.

.. there is a description below the video, which seems helpful, if you ever want to spot drowning children

edit: at the end of the video a lifeguard swims to the drowning child

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The ultimate NN challenge..
Wait is this just one huge troll? I've watched quite a few and it's always ...
What is it always?
They are referring to the "blacks cannot swim" stereotype. Black kids are more likely to drown in pools and in these videos they appear more as well (see https://www.abc10.com/article/news/community/race-and-cultur...).
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I feel it's more culture than race. Seems income is a big factor. Most likely to affect marginalized communities. I see it a lot in the Philippines also. Maybe it's less access to swimming lessons and pools to practice in.
Muscle/fat distribution and how this influences ability to float is a big factor in drowning rates among populations without access to swim lessons. Statistically there are significant differences in that distribution based on race, age, and gender.

You ever swim with clothes on? Like a pair of jeans? It's way harder, way more energy gets expended to stay above water. Even with knowing how to swim, having a reduced ability to float can be incredibly dangerous.

It does seem to somewhat skew the aim of the site. Account for all the black kids riding rings, account for those near depth, and then watch to see which changes. I got bored before I found any variation on the theme.

I did find a couple where you could tell which kid was going to be in trouble long before it'd let you click them, which I found interesting.