When he was merely 3 years old, Brian Goodell accidentally fell into a pool of water and had to be revived. After that, he had a phobia of water until three years later when he decided to face his fears and learn to swim. Soon after, he became part of a local team before eventually becoming an Olympic gold medalist.
On Saturday, Brian and five other Olympians took part in the Swim to Win 2013 campaign, which was organized by the Family YMCA of the Desert along with assistance from the City of Palm Desert. The whole aim of the campaign was to raise awareness about drowning and provide free swimming lessons to children in the area. The event is also believed to be the largest event to promote water safety in the history of the Coachella Valley. The total turnout for the event was above 2,000, more than twice of what was expected. Organisers believe that this will only be the first of a long-running program in the valley.
“We couldn’t have anticipated this kind of turnout. Drowning prevention is something we can do. It’s a problem we can solve,” stated Steve Little, who was the one who came up with the idea and got the Olympians involved.
“A lot of people believe that (drowning) is a socio-economical thing. It’s not. Drowning covers every socio-economical level. It happens in two minutes. It’s silent. It’s horrifying. So I think we need to give every child an opportunity to swim,” said Olympian Janet Evans, who first learned to swim as a child and influence others to learn as well after she managed to earn their respect.
There was one point on Saturday where a 5 year-old boy was struggling with his mother to get into the water with Olympian Aaron Peirsol, who himself learned to swim at a similar age. Eventually, he managed to convince the young boy to trust him as he pulled him out into the water. “We started off slow and before I knew it, I had him out in the middle of the pool. He had his head down in the water and he was smiling at me. That was pretty special. That is, to me, why we are here,” explained Aaron. For more of the story, you can check it out here.
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