When apocolyptic events happen, fantastic responses are called for. A "business as usual" approach following these events is common, but uninspired and sub-par.
Business as usual is, "What a tragedy. Bless those families. More people should take swimming lessons. Oh, what a shame!" And then we turn our backs and resume our daily routines.
In my mind, there is only one proper response to the Shreveport drownings in
early August: a concrete, grounded, financially feasible plan to prevent it
from ever happening again.
As Paul Hawken said, "What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world." Ending drowning is one such project. You and I are the ordinary people who can pull it off. We could not have done it a few years ago. But now we can.
How many proposals did Shreveport receive? I know of one. The goal, one that
must be reached, is to teach every single citizen of Shreveport, population
200,000, to swim in the shortest possible time. It was once a pie-in-the-sky
idea. It is no more. I proposed this:
Using Miracle Swimming Institute technology, two MSI trainers would go to Shreveport to train 10 MSI instructors. At the same time, we'd demonstrate the teaching of sixteen adults and sixteen children to swim with our system. We'd prove again that Miracle Swimming is absolutely essential if drowning is to end.
The next year, we'd return to teach 10 more MSI instructors plus adults and kids.
When the 20 newly trained instructors have taught Miracle Swimming for two years year-round to 100 adults and 100 children each year, a handful will have mastered the MSI system. Two will be chosen—if they wish to be promoted—to become trainers of Miracle Swimming instructors in Shreveport.
MSI Instructor Trainers would be trained. Adult swim class graduates would become volunteers to assist them.
In the following four years, 260 Miracle Swimming instructors would be trained. These are in addition to the YMCA and Red Cross programs that already exist, on whom this plan also depends. The Y and ARC programs succeed each year with a number of students. All successful teaching is needed to achieve the city's goal of zero drowning in the shortest possible time.
The Miracle Swimming instructors would teach at community pools, schools and colleges, backyard pools, therapy centers, Easter Seals pools, Centers for Independent Living, private swim schools, and hopefully, Ys.
I guestimate that 25 percent of Shreveport can swim now. In six years, 150,000 Shreveport citizens can be taught to be reliable for their safety in deep water: to swim. This will bring its "swimability" to 100 percent. Within every class, the messages of water-watching (supervision) and pool safety will be driven home and Johnny Johnson's Safer 3 will become a household word.
Of note, swimming lessons will no longer be sprinkled here and there and be subject to seasons. They will be as familiar, certain, and routine as going to school for kids—and adults. This is the attitude change that's required to make a city safe around water; to end drowning in any town. Once a city has the system in place, only maintenance of teaching new residents and children will be required.
Make no mistake. The teaching of a whole city to swim will not happen without a system that teaches people—adults and children— how to be comfortable in water, to rely on themselves for their safety in the deep, and panic prevention. However, with it, any town or city can be "drown-proofed." Even more surely than your family has been drown-proofed, any family can be.
There is no need for drowning.
Take your imagination to a place where this can be true.
Bringing it to pass will take a helluva system. Fortunately, it's here.