A GRATEFUL mum has hailed a Worthing baby swimming group as a “life-saver” after her 12-week-old son’s pram rolled into a lake with him strapped inside.
Tiny Kyle Burton remained completely calm and did not even cry when the accident happened at the Oyster Pond near Harbour Park, Littlehampton.
His mum Faye Hersee said his calmness was thanks to Kyle’s experience in the water during his classes with Swimbabies at Oak Grove College, Worthing.
Faye, 30, said: “When he went into the water he must have thought it was an impromptu swimming lesson.
“The pram went in and under the water.
“I jumped straight in and grabbed the pram and lifted it out. Kyle was as casual as anything.
“He didn’t panic and he didn’t start screaming so he didn’t take in any water.
“Some people might think these swimming classes are expensive but for me they were a life-saver.”
Faye, of Worthing Road, East Preston, said Kyle had only had four lessons with Swimbabies.
One of Kyle’s lessons involved a freeswim, where you drop the baby in the water and their natural reaction is to come back up. The babies also have water put on their faces to teach them to hold their breath and to spit water out.
Faye said: “When the pram went in, he went backwards and the water would’ve hit his head first. His body must have kicked in and he knew to hold his breath.”
Faye, also mum to Jade, four, took baby Kyle, to Worthing Hospital as a precaution later that day where he was monitored for a couple of hours.
“I told the nurses and consultant I had been taking him to swimming lessons and they said it could’ve been a completely different story if I hadn’t,” said Faye.
“The hospital said, quite often, children will be in shock and then as they scream they inhale water. But they found no water had gone into Kyle so he must have held his breath.”
As well as calling on all new parents to take their babies swimming, Faye has urged people to be aware of the dangers at the lake.
She contacted Arun District Council to complain about a lack of health and safety precautions at the site and was not happy with the response.
She said: “I take full responsibility for what happened. I had let the brakes off the pram and turned to my daughter and the pram went rolling.
“But the steep incline there is really deceptive and there are not enough signs to warn of it or the depth of the water. There is also no-one around to offer first aid help.
“Lots of children seem to be left on their own to play at the edge of the lake. It’s so easy to wander down to – there is no fencing to separate the lake from the rest of the park and no main road for the children to cross.
“I don’t want to stop anyone from having fun but I think people should be aware it’s a lot deeper than you think.”
Paul Broggi, property manager for Arun District Council, said there was no health and safety requirement for a fence around the pond but there were signs and safety rings.
Mr Broggi said: “I am satisfied the safety precautions at the pond are reasonable and sufficient, however, I will ask the council’s health and safety officer to inspect the area and provide comments in relation to the situation.”
Lucy Keeffe who runs Swimbabies said: “I’m so pleased baby Kyle is ok and that his lessons have proved to be so beneficial.
“It reinforces the fact babies will learn things through repetition.”
For more on Swimbabies, visit www.swimbabies.com or call 01903 717652.