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FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) –  A Fort Worth’s YMCA aquatics specialist shared some advice for anyone who will be near a pool this holiday season.

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According to YMCA’s Jaquelyn Kotar, if a person is flailing about, they are not drowning, they are panicking. Their bodies will stiffen as they struggle to keep their face above water.

“Alright, I see a guy that’s panicked,” Kotar said as she demonstrated picking up a circular life preserver to throw at a volunteer, splashing in the water. “I’m going to grab my ring buoy, throw it out to him. Here! Grab on! He’s going to grab on and I’m going to pull him in. Grab tight! The LAST thing I want to do is jump in after him.”

Kotar trains life guards for the YMCA.


She says panicked swimmers struggle for breath and want to grab on to something. Stay on the bank and reach out with an object, even a swimming noodle. There’s a simple saying to make sure they don’t grab you and take you with them.

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“Because the last thing we want is two victims in the water,” Kotar said. “That’s why our expression is reach, throw, don’t go.”

A drowning person is far more difficult to spot. They sink to the bottom. According to her, the best way to watch swimmers is close to the edge of the pool.

“Because if I’m sitting in a chair back here I can’t see what’s happening right here,” Kotar said pointing to the bottom of the pool right under her feet. “But if I’m standing on the edge in an elevated position I can see everything including what’s right below me.”

Not only should you keep watch near the pool’s edge, you should never let the kids in a pool where you can’t see the bottom.

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