Understanding The Benefits And Dangers Of Water

Episode 7 August 17, 2023 00:48:02
Understanding The Benefits And Dangers Of Water
The Water Safety Podcast
Understanding The Benefits And Dangers Of Water

Aug 17 2023 | 00:48:02

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Show Notes

Nicole Phelps and Marissa Fortier of the Michael Phelps Foundation speak with hosts Adam Katchmarchi and Alissa Magrum about how to communicate water safety to parents, the benefits of water, and teaching children to swim who may not have access to swim lessons.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:01 N D P A presents the Water Safety Champion Podcast. Speaker 2 00:00:11 All right, everyone, welcome back to another episode of the N D P A Water Safety Champions Podcast. Adam Kemarie, the executive director of the N D P A with you and, uh, of course, joined by half of the water safety odd couple today, again, joined by Alyssa Magnum. Alyssa, how you doing today? Speaker 3 00:00:28 I am fantastic. How about you? Speaker 2 00:00:30 I am doing great. It's the summer we are pushing water safety information out to the public, and I've gotta say, this summer just feels a little bit different. I think there's a lot of coordinated efforts going on around the country. I think there's a lot of activities, not just at the national level, with the rollout of the US action plan coming up here soon, um, you know, some of the work Ndpa has been doing and some of our partner organizations, we just wrapped up National Water Safety Month. But, um, just scrolling Facebook, and I'm only on Facebook, so I don't, I don't do the other social sites, but just seeing all the activity of water safety this summer has really been exciting. Speaker 3 00:01:05 Well, I am currently on a road trip right now, so I'm in Colorado, but I was in New Mexico and I listened to N P R, uh, as I drive, and I actually heard in New Mexico and in Colorado, water safety messaging as we're approaching, you know, Memorial Day weekend Lakes, and in, in Colorado, the snow melt is causing rivers to be rushing. And so I think you're, I think you're right. It's the consciousness around water safety and, um, getting the message out is happening, or at least it feels like a shift. So let's take it. Speaker 2 00:01:33 Yeah, I love it. Well, let's get into our guest today, which I am super excited. So we've teased out, we have, uh, Marissa, the executive director at the Michael Phelps Foundation joining us, but we have a special guest with us today, and that is Nicole Phelps, Michael's wife is also joining us. Um, hello to you both. Welcome to the podcast. Speaker 4 00:01:53 Hey, Adam. Hey, Alyssa. Speaker 3 00:01:55 Hi. Speaker 2 00:01:56 Hello. So let's jump right into the discussion and Nicole, I'm gonna start this off. So normally we have one guest, but with two, I'm gonna ask you both this question, um, which is our typical opening on this podcast is what's your water story? So Nicole, I'm gonna start with you. Give us a little background of who Nicole is and, um, what's your, uh, lifestyle been around the water? Speaker 4 00:02:18 Awesome. So I have always been in the water since I was a little girl. My parents, grandparents, everybody loved the pool, right? So, not that we were in formal water training, but everybody was comfortable in the water and familiar with being okay to be in the water. Um, I was on swim team a long time ago, and I will not claim that because I married Michael, um, <laugh>. However, <laugh> I will get in the water and pretend I know how to swim next to him every great once in a while. Um, so by default, because I, I happily chose to partner with Michael, I got to partner with the Michael Phelps Foundation too. Um, and so water safety became, became even more important just by learning all of the facts and the fun stuff with him and Ms. Kathy and Marissa. And then of course, we had three little boys and water safety became an even more important topic in our household. Um, so today the way I look at water safety is definitely different than I did in the past. Um, and I think I have more, more care and concern and reaction when I'm around water than I ever have in life. Um, last week we went to a pre-K celebration and everybody was in the pool and I was hyper conscious, right? Terrified, Speaker 3 00:03:36 Right? Speaker 4 00:03:37 Yeah. Yeah. So Misty Hyman, um, her little boy or little girl, I'm sorry, is in class with our son mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so we were having a discussion about how terrifying it is to have these pool parties, especially with five-year-olds. Thankfully there was two lifeguards on hand. But like I said, my whole, uh, thought process on water safety has definitely changed since having three little ones. What Speaker 3 00:04:01 Else? Wait until get into the middle school pool parties at Speaker 4 00:04:03 The end of school, because that is Speaker 3 00:04:04 I know. Call, call me. 'cause I've been through, I have an 18 year old, I've been through all of the parties and the, all the stuff, the boat things, and it is Yeah. Brace yourself. Speaker 4 00:04:14 Yeah. Yeah. And we're in Arizona. You'll be the Speaker 3 00:04:16 Conscious one. Yeah. Speaker 4 00:04:18 Lakes, that's a different ball game than just swimming pools. So we're getting there little by little. Speaker 2 00:04:23 Well, you know, I, I think it's interesting that you, you say Nicole with like three little boys, and I mean, I could, I could safely tell you're already, um, doing better than most 'cause you're thinking about water safety. Right? Right. That's the things that, you know, we at nd p a have found when we talk to parents. I mean, I often say, you know, the statistic drownings a single leading cause of death for children, ages one to four second leading cause of injury, death children, um, five to 14. But most parents don't know that they, they think it's car crashes, they think it's other things. Um, and you know, in our last podcast we talked about some of the challenges with messaging that to parents. Right. And I'm a firm believer that, you know, people really can't make informed safety decisions if they're, they don't know the basic information about the risks. Right. Speaker 4 00:05:08 I agree with you. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:05:10 Yeah. Um, so yeah, I I I will say I'm thankful, um, to you who has three young, uh, boys. Um, you know, 'cause you know, frankly, 80% of our drowning victims are male. Um, and Speaker 4 00:05:23 Yeah, well, and you can tell why. I mean, I see my, my as water safe as we make those boys, you can still see why there's issue. I mean, the second anything, for an example, in our own household, last week we came back from the party and I let Boomer and Beckett, which are number one, number two, jump in the pool with number three, number one, number two, start kicking each other underwater. And I'm like, okay, we're outta the water. You're being unsafe. I'm sorry. Game's over. You know? And it's, and it can be hard just because they like to roughhouse no matter where they are, land or water, they're gonna do it. Speaker 2 00:05:57 Well. Absolutely. And you know, I think, um, a again, most parents aren't quite, you know, quite aware of those risks. And, you know, it was shocking, right? We actually had a question come up recently from one of our members, you know, does that 80% statistic stay true in that one to four year old category? And our chief medical advisor and I, we sat down and, you know, we're like, well, we think it does, but let's actually run those numbers. And I mean, it was shocking to see almost that exact statistic and, you know, being a male of myself and making poor choices around the water in my younger years, um, right. You know, we are unfortunately our own worst enemy, right? And, you know, parents want to do everything they can to keep their child safe. So it's really being aware and having those proactive discussions with the kids, um, and making those good choices around the water. Speaker 4 00:06:45 Right. I agree with you. Speaker 2 00:06:47 Um, Marissa, let's bring you into the discussion. Let's, uh, ask you that same question. What is Marissa's water safety story? Speaker 5 00:06:57 So, uh, water story. Speaker 2 00:06:58 Water story. Speaker 5 00:06:59 Water story, right? Yeah. <laugh> <laugh>. So I, so I, I'm from Maine. I live here and we're on the ocean. Um, plenty of lakes and other very beautiful bodies of water, but swimming at at least in a more structured environment is not very popular here. Um, there's not a lot of swim teams. We just built our first 50 meter pool like a year or two ago in the whole state of Maine. So I grew up having swim lessons in above ground pool at some random lady's house. And I probably went through like one series of swim lessons. Um, and then as I got older, you know, I went to school and I never thought about water safety. Like we had an above ground pool at our house, and we definitely, you know, my parents were cautious, but they didn't know, I don't think they really appreciated the dangers of water. Speaker 5 00:08:00 And I think that's kind of what you were speaking to Adam, is that parents just don't know. And I was definitely one, a child of parents who, who didn't know, and two, before kind of entering into this water safety field, I frankly didn't know. Um, so I feel really fortunate to have gained this knowledge because we know the statistics aren't in our favor. Um, but also just share it with my community, my friends and, and different people who, frankly, they're not hearing about it in the doctor's office. They're not hearing it about it, different friends. Um, it's just drowning prevention is not an easy topic to bring up when you're at a pool party when you're at the beach. It's like, it's, it's morbid. Um, but it's so critical. So my water story has just evolved with Michaels and, um, you know, wanting to provide more access to swimming and grow the sport. Speaker 5 00:08:58 And we wanted to do that from step one and getting, getting more kids in the water and safer and comfortable and confident. So, um, I really, I really grew in, in that sense and, and didn't have a strong base in, in water. And I feel fortunate. I mean, I know a lot of people that come to this place of being so involved in water safety, have experienced a tragedy or know someone. And I just feel really fortunate that, um, that I was able to become aware and help others before, you know, that happened. 'cause we just, we just know that it does. Um, so that's kind of where I am. And, um, just being more aware of my surroundings. I have two young children. They're both girls. Um, so as far as they're a little more trepid around the water. And I think a lot of that has been kind of the, the struggle that we've had is the water is a beautiful place, but it also can be dangerous. So that's kind of been what we've been trying to balance of like, appreciate and respect the water, enjoy it, but have a healthy respect. Um, so yeah, that's kind of my, my water story. We've been lucky to, um, do a lot of wonderful things and, um, yeah, I'm happy to be here talking to you guys today. This is fun. Speaker 2 00:10:17 W well, you know, I think that's one of the key things. Uh, Marissa, I want to, uh, just ping off of what you just said. Um, you know, it was funny, I was meeting with one of our interns this summer for N D P A this morning, and, um, the student's an undergrad student, she's a public health student. But, um, you know, injury prevention and public health is kind of a, we've talked about this on the podcast before. Injury prevention itself is a lonely orphan when it comes to other, you know, things that, whether it be pediatricians or public health, you know, anything that we talk about and drowning is the loneliest little orphan out of all of the topics and injury prevention. And one of the challenges that, you know, I was discussing, you know, just kind of bringing this intern up to speed of, you know, who N D P A is. And you know, what we try to do is that marketing side, right? How to have that discussion with water safety, because we're talking about something where, you know, you are making parents think about the worst possible scenario, right. Losing one of their children. And sometimes there are most effective spokespeople are those parents who have lost, we found, because they can, you know, say I can sit here and say, or talk water safety all day. You Speaker 5 00:11:26 Don't wanna be me <laugh>. Speaker 2 00:11:27 Exactly. Right? Right. And it's, it's really hard to get that message to come through because as soon as, um, you know, I often share when I was, uh, doing my dissertation defense, um, one of my committee members, it was actually good for me as a student or trying to pass my defense at the time, but I went through the drowning statistics and her daughter was in that age range. And she came up to me after the presentation and she's like, honestly, I'm gonna give you feedback on your dissertation. But I completely tuned out after you went through the statistics because all I could think about was my own daughter drowning, and I completely lost track of everything else. And we don't want parents to get locked into that. Right. Because, you know, the reality is we wanna get them onto, okay, here's how you can keep your child safe. Speaker 2 00:12:12 And I think being able to balance that messaging is so critically important. Whether it's just that conversation at the pool or whether it's, you know, a national media campaign for Johnny Prevention, right. That marketing and messaging and how we layer that is so critically important. Um, you know, I know Nicole, you and Michael are true water safety champions. Um, you're out there trying to push, um, you know, not just to get kids involved in the sport of swimming. Right? Um, you know, swimming is one of those few, it's probably the only sport that is also a lifesaving skill, but is also physical activity. There's, you know, um, obviously the sporting element tied to it. Uh, Michael's a great champion for that, for the sport. Um, but also just living that active lifestyle around the water, right? It can really be a lifelong physical activity piece where other sports, you know, once you're done with high school or college athletics, you're pretty much done with your sport. Right? So, um, you know, can you talk a little bit about that and kind of how you and Michael approach, you know, the supportive swimming and not just, you know, water safety, but also, you know, really trying to get kids active and healthy around the water. Speaker 4 00:13:21 Right. So I think that's what is such a gift, like you're saying about swimming, is that you can continue it on. I mean, I have an 88 year old grandmother who loves to get in the water and do water aerobics, you know, and so cool. And she's in Pennsylvania, right? So luckily indoor pool can do it year round. And you can find that across the nation around the world, right? You'll have outdoor, indoor swimming based off of weather. And I think that's what is the beauty of it. So that side of knowing how to swim or at least be water safe so that you can get in the water no matter what time of year is good because it's good for rehabilitation. It's good, like you said, for active lifestyles. Um, I, myself get in Yeah. Mental health, it's like, that's what I was gonna go to. Speaker 4 00:14:01 So like, for me, I get in and it's an aerobic workout, but because Michael has swam so many miles in all his life, he's not gonna get the same thing out of it that I'm gonna get out of it. Right? So, Michael's going to get in because he's having some sort of mental health struggle and getting back in that water is very meditative for Michael. So he can get in and swim as many lapses he needs to, he knows at what point he'll actually get something out of it. But mentally, you know, he's using it for his mental health. Um, for me, I can't stare at a black line and have silence. Like, it would be really nice to have wa music under the water. Yeah. Because then I might be able to go a longer distance. Um, but like I said, for Michael, that's meditative. Speaker 4 00:14:39 Um, for myself, it's aerobic for my boys, it's get energy out, you know? So there's so many ways to access the water, and whether you're in an ocean or a lake or a pool, I, it's just, it's awesome because it, it does bring serenity. We were in Idaho earlier this week and on, on lake. I forget what the lake's called, but it was so beautiful, right? And so that brings you peace, but it's also being aware, oh gosh, if I stand up like this on the boat, could I fall off? Okay. We didn't have our kids, but our kids would've been in life jackets. Right? So it's just being water conscious when you are around it and recognizing that there is still a safety element, even though it can bring so much serenity and peace to you. Speaker 3 00:15:23 I love your holistic approach. 'cause so much of when we talk in this space, it's so much on the, the water is the danger, and we don't often, right? I know for me, like if, if I had less clothes on, I'd have tattoos all over and I have a lot of water related tattoos. And for me it's like that Yeah. That balance of water as peaceful and meditative and, and then Right. Also water as danger and respect and, um, and working in drowning prevention. I've struggled with like, balancing those things Yeah. When you talk about 'em. But I love hearing you talk about 'em. And I think that, I wish that we could talk more to it to more people about it in that way. Um, right. Because they may be, I'm just having sort of this revelation right now. Like maybe they'll listen more than when we're just talking to them about the danger side of it. I don't know. I just, I'm, I'm gonna think you've inspired me to think more about that globally. Thank you. Versus just my own personal, you know, water story. Speaker 4 00:16:24 And it's hard, right? Because everybody has their own story and their own experience. Um, and so it can be difficult. Sorry, my son is calling me right now on FaceTime. Did it <laugh>, did it affect You're Speaker 3 00:16:37 Okay? Life. Life is, life is real. Speaker 4 00:16:42 Um, so as I was saying, like I think, you know, when you hone in on the statistics, it's like, I'm gonna use the pre-K party, for example. It's not like, I'm not saying, did you guys hire a lifeguard? Because you know what can happen, right? It's more like, Hey, is there gonna be a lifeguard here? Like, I just wanna know how much caution we need to have. So like when Michael and I walked out the door, because we understand how dangerous it can be, he and I were aware, right? So one of us wore a bathing suit and we went to the party together knowing that we were gonna need to be a little bit more conscious of what was taking place. God forbid something happened, right? So I think it's, the people that are aware have a little more awareness to it, but it's also creating comfort in the water. Speaker 4 00:17:23 And I think that's the number one thing. And I feel like our programming that Miss Kathy built out, like that's her premise. And I remember, you know, when booms was little, I was like, Hey, miss Kathy, talk to me about how I teach Boomer not to go in the pool. And she was like, it's the same as crossing the street. He's not gonna cross the street 'cause he is gonna get hit by a car. He's not gonna get in the pool because he could drown. And I was like, oh, okay. <laugh>. That's an easier way to look at this <laugh>. Speaker 2 00:17:49 Yeah. Well, you know, I think too, that is something, you know, we've been trying to balance in our messaging as well. And it's, it's something that I start out a lot of news interviews with now. 'cause you know, they're bringing me on to talk about the horrific side of this, right? Yeah. The statistics and how to keep people safe. But I always try to balance in there like, look, we're, we're, what we're not saying is don't go recreate around the water. We're not saying don't go have fun around the water. Right. We just need to respect the water because, you know, and I, again, I think this goes back to awareness and people's understanding of, of the risks that water actually presents and being able to make informed choices about safety. But I think that that holistic piece is really important to keep in mind because, you know, if you tell people, you know, there's this whole psychology around the word no. Speaker 2 00:18:36 Right? As soon as they hear no, don't, you know, it, it's like we tune it out. Especially men for some reason we're just like, oh, I'll prove you wrong. I can do it. Right. Um, so, you know, oftentimes like we just need to like, it's really how you position that, right? I think I, you know, being able to say to someone like, look, we know you're a great, you know, you're great on the water. You've lived your whole life on a boat. Um, but you know, yeah. You still should wear a life jacket. Um, and you know, I think what's important there is, you know, we're all joining from different places of the country that have their own water risks, right? Yeah. Alyssa's in Colorado right now up in the mountains, you're in Arizona, which, you know, people think desert, but has a huge preponderance of pools. Yes, Speaker 5 00:19:18 We do. Speaker 2 00:19:18 I'm in Pennsylvania where, you know, we have a lot of natural water, rivers, um, lakes. And you know what's a little scary this time of year is people are gonna go start recreating around those bodies of water, but the water's not quite that warm yet. And, um, you know, when people fall into cold water and they don't expect it, that even makes their risk Totally Speaker 5 00:19:36 Different thing. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:19:37 And you know, then, then there's Marissa who's up in Maine where, I don't know if the water ever gets warm up in Maine, does it? Marissa? Speaker 5 00:19:45 It does not. <laugh>. Speaker 4 00:19:48 She's got polar plunge all the time. Speaker 5 00:19:50 Yeah. Polar. Yeah. I know. We jump in the ocean actually. And we, we jump in for Special Olympics every New Year's day. Uh, I get like 20 of my family members and it actually, it feels the same way as it does in the summer because the air is not as warm. So it's like 55 to 65 and yeah, you just kind of get used to it. But it's all, it's all the same. I, but it's true. We get, Speaker 2 00:20:17 I watched you do that on Facebook this year and I just thought, my God, is she nuts? <laugh>? Speaker 5 00:20:21 Yeah. Well, you know, I'm but <laugh>, I know Speaker 4 00:20:23 She's from Maine. Yeah. <laugh>. Speaker 5 00:20:25 Yeah. It's all part of it. Um, yeah, it was, it is a ton of fun though. And we love working with the Special Olympics. It's like, we recently went to Paraguay, which was not cold. Um, and we taught I think six 16 different countries. Um, yeah. 16 different Latin American countries came together to learn about our program and for Special Olympics a little, it's a little bit different than boys and girls clubs. We teach them how to swim fast 'cause they're coming at us on a more competitive level. But we still go over the basics of like being comfortable. 'cause that has been kind of skipped sometimes. Um, and it was really, it was amazing, amazing experience. Um, so yeah. So we're ready, we're we're willing to jump into the cold Maine notion for that. Oh, Speaker 3 00:21:14 You guys would too. I would love to know. I, I would love to know more. Maybe not in this podcast about the Special Olympics. I'm a Special Olympics swim coach in Austin. So the Lake Travis Thunder is our, uh, special Olympics swim team. Um, I have a big affinity, uh, for those, those humans that are, uh, doing special Olympics side conversation. Yeah. But that's awesome. Speaker 5 00:21:34 Well, it, it is what we do. And you know, we first started working with Special Olympics with the same approach as boys and girls clubs as far as getting like more kids in the water. So we developed this, um, they have young athletes, which is the athlete's first introduction to a sport. So we actually did one for swimming. Um, but we found a lot of these guys that came to it older and wanted to swim faster. So we, we kind of modeled swim lessons into a practice format. Um, and it's been super successful and super fun and we're seeing these guys just swim fast. And it's, it is awesome. Awesome. But we did start and learn to swim with them too. 'cause we, we do take, um, kind of like the holistic approach. Like we want, we want people to go to the water because it's enjoyable, but we know you can't enjoy the water unless you're comfortable and confident. Speaker 5 00:22:27 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So that has been sort of our lane is to get these guys regardless of the age, comfortable and confident in the water so that it's a lifelong sport for them. 'cause we know the benefits. Um, and of course it's not always that easy. They're, you come with baggage, you come from lack of access, you come from all of the things. Um, so that's, we try to reach the demographic of, of folks who don't have the access, who might have the bag engine need one-on-one, stroke, construction, um, different things like that. So yeah, it's been, it's been great. Speaker 2 00:23:04 Marissa, could you, um, give us a little bit of a broad overview of the Michael Phelps Foundation and just on the activities, you know, I know you guys do so much, but I think some of it is oftentimes behind the scenes. So you talk just a little bit about the programming you guys do on a, on really all fronts. Speaker 5 00:23:23 Well, it is behind the scenes 'cause we do an awful job at marketing or telling people what we do, <laugh>. Um, we have what I consider a very small but mighty team. And we just do the work and then we hope that people will find out about it, Adam. So we're glad we're here and talking about it 'cause this is helpful for us. But, um, like I mentioned before, we have a comprehensive Learn to Swim program that along with using the same swim curriculum, lesson curriculum that Michael used, that was developed by Ms. Kathy that Nicole was mentioning mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, we also look at the full person. So we also talked about the, uh, mental health benefits of swimming, the lifelong sport, the rehabilitation of it all. So we really look at the person and look at their, um, their health mentally and physically to get in the water and just try to equip them to be the best that they can be in hopes that swimming is a positive place for them. Speaker 5 00:24:26 Um, and of course that, that starts, like I mentioned, you've, you've gotta be comfortable and confident in the water in, in order to have those, those other items. So we have a program in the Boys and Girls Clubs called the I Am Program. We are in 100 Boys and Girls Clubs. Um, so at least 50 kids in each of those boys and girls clubs is learning how to swim mostly. It's mostly their first time kiddos getting in there. Yeah. And we train the club staff to teach the kids how to swim. 'cause we know they're coming in at eight years old, nine years old, and they've got their own experiences. They gotta get in the water with someone that they trust. So a lot of these swim instructors, um, some of them aren't actually swim instructors. They're just trusted staff. Um, we have. And so we take them for at least 24 hours and go through the program, get them in the water three or four times. Speaker 5 00:25:23 We get supporting lifeguards. We get an OnDeck person. Um, and our goal is to get them into lessons and hopefully get them to stay. Um, we also have a, it's called I Am Fun, which is part of the program where you just are going into the water and playing Marco Polo using those skills and realizing you don't have to just stare at that black line that Nicole was talking about. Um, it can be a place for exercise, like how her boys, her boys use the water. Uh, I am Fast is the more competitive side, like what we're doing with Special Olympics. And then healthy is social emotional and physical health. And then successful is goal setting. So there's a lot of components, but we know people are also multifaceted and we don't just approach it in a sort of learn to swim. We approach it and a human approach and trying to make them the best they can do through the water. So that's the I Am program. Um, yeah, go ahead. Speaker 2 00:26:19 I would say I think that's, that's just so critical and just talking about mm-hmm. <affirmative> kind of whole holistic piece, right? I mean, and that's what I love about your program is you're meeting the kids where they are. Right. You know, and you, you mentioned about, you know, if you get an eight or nine year old who, you know, maybe doesn't have the best relationship to water, maybe they've had a bad experience around the water. You know, we want them to be water safe, we want them to learn skills. But that creates an extra challenge. And taking the time to really recognize that, and whether that child goes on to be the next Michael Phelps or whether they just, you know, get a little bit safer around the water and learning those basic skills, it's all a win. Um, it is all a win. And I think that to me is what just I love about the programming that you guys do, is you hit it from all angles to really meet the kid where they're at versus trying to fit them into a mold per se. Speaker 3 00:27:13 Well, you're talking about their water story, which is what we are talking about. And I think that's something that I love. I feel like there's like, we're, we're using that term and we're spreading it around. I know when I go, I'm about to go to The Bahamas to do a international learn to swim outreach. And we, that is the very first thing we do with all the kids, is we find out their water story and how it plays into what they bring to lessons. And, um, this is, this is a very inspiring, I guess I didn't really know all of what you guys do. So this is like, I love that I get to get to hear some of this. Like I said, it's so I'm gonna help you. I'm gonna help you. No, but it's, this is like, what a great space for you guys to talk about it and start yelling it from the mountaintops. 'cause it's, the holistic piece is so huge. So yay. Yay. And we're gonna help you push it out there. Thank you. Or Speaker 4 00:28:03 Thank you. Speaker 2 00:28:06 Um, so let me ask, um, uh, Nicole, you know, one of the things that I, you know, also love about, uh, Michael's story and your story is, you know, I, you look at just all of the different, you know, professional Olympic athletes that end their careers, right? And some go on do podcasts, some, you know, go on and, and, and, you know, develop their own brand. You and Michael have been really intentional about giving back, um, you know, whether it be athlete mental health, whether it be working with children and their development, whether it be water safety and making children safer around the water and love the sport of swimming. Um, you know, can you tell me a little bit about how you guys landed on that? Because, um, it's, it's not always the easiest route, right? You know, you're giving up, you know, time with your kids, you're giving up, um, you know, things that you could do otherwise to really make a difference in the world. And I think that's so powerful, um, with people like you and Michael who really can make a huge impact. Speaker 4 00:29:06 Um, first I'm gonna say thank you because I think there, it's what the mission that we've started to go down, and especially for Michael, it's an intangible object, right? So he was able to go chase a bunch of gold medals, which obviously the work that he's doing now, and he will stand up on stage. And I feel the same way, you know, if we save one life that's worth more than those gold medals are. Um, so I'm, I am appreciative to hear that from you. 'cause sometimes we forget what an impact it's making. Mm-hmm. Um, and I think that's what it is. It's the impact that we potentially could make for the rest of our lives. And it started in 2015 when Michael was willing to open up about his own mental health. And obviously everyone knows the journey of his swimming career, right. And where that ended. Speaker 4 00:29:54 Um, but now this is a piece that nobody knew about in his puzzle of life. And so with him being able to share that, it shined light on my own stuff. And then also being just the supporter of somebody who struggles with mental health. Um, I, I don't think that that's talked enough about either, because the, that side of stuff needs support as well. Yeah. Um, and that, and then falls into mental health too, because if somebody lose a child, a parent, anything, you know, to a drowning, you're talking about mental health again. So it's just, it's an, I think it's an ongoing battle, right? We've just started to talk about it around the world. It's funny, I have a Chinese, um, a Chinese doctor and I asked her, I was like, well, when did China start talking about mental health and awareness about it? Speaker 4 00:30:42 And she told me in 1980. So, you know, when you start to hear stuff like that, you realize how fresh this actually is globally. Right? So we're talking about it here in the US but worldwide we're just barely touching on some of the stuff that's going on. And again, I mean, that same thing, I, I bring it back to water safety. It's the stigma of water safety. It's the stigma of mental health. Like, we're just on a mission to bring as much awareness as we possibly can to both topics because both are near and dear to us. And both will make change in the whole Speaker 2 00:31:14 World. Yeah. Well, and, and truly, I mean, thank you because it, it, you know, I say it's, it's hard to sometimes breach these subjects. Right. And you mentioned even the stigma Yeah. Of, of drowning. You know, one of the things Alyssa and I both work very closely, um, and I know you and Michael have as well, and Marissa with families who have lost a child to a drowning. And there oftentimes is a stigma with that of, well, you just have not been watching your child, or you're a bad parent and Yeah. Speaker 4 00:31:41 Shame and blame. Yeah. Which does no good. <laugh> Speaker 2 00:31:45 It. Well, exactly. And you know, I, I hear these parents' stories and sometimes Alyssa and I are the first people these parents talk to after they've lost a child. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And it's something I have to train the N D P A staff on, is when you answer that phone call when it's ringing and you don't recognize the number, there is a chance that's a parent calling. I mean, we got a call right after Mother's Day that, you know, the, the mother had just lost her, her two-year-old daughter the day before Mother's Day. And, you know, she's asking questions about, you know, the, the statistics and why she didn't know what she didn't know. And, but it's hard for some of these parents who wanna talk about this from, you know, even just trying to spread a message because there is a lot of blame, there is a lot of shame that goes around. Speaker 2 00:32:26 Yeah. And I hear that from parents every day that we work with. And I, I think they're the biggest champions out there because they're overcoming that stigma. I agree. And saying, you know, we'll take the courage mm-hmm. <affirmative> Yeah. That courage to go out and keep Yeah. Keep doing it. And when you see someone like you and Michael being able to do that as well and use your platform to help break down not just the water safety side, but also the mental health side. I mean, I think it's so powerful, um, and empowering Thank you to some of these people. Speaker 4 00:32:55 Yeah. I, you know, I, I am not in any position to talk in regards to a drowning because I gratefully have not experienced what that feels like. I can talk to the mental health side of it all day. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, but that's a huge component when somebody does lose somebody. And I just, it's, it's a difficult thing because we just, we can't feel what it means to lose somebody in the water until it happens. Right. Or until we have some kind of scare and a scare. I mean, a scare could be in my backyard, which we had a, a party and there was five kids in the water. I have three of those kids in the water, so there's only two. Right. And one kid just got scared. Like, he just realized he couldn't touch the bottom and he just got scared. And so I kind of watched him and his mom dove in, you know, and it's just the reactionary stuff. Speaker 4 00:33:43 And we're, we're living it too. It's not like it's a, it's not a reality for us in this home because it can happen under anyone's watch. There was four adults all standing around the pool and we all saw it at the same exact time. And you just don't know when. I mean, you know, drowning is so hard because I remember we had a little kid's pool in the backyard and we would dump it every single night. And, you know, we'd get questioned, whoever was happened to be in the house at the time. Well, why are you dumping it out? You're wasting water. 'cause now it becomes a water waste, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But I'm like, yeah, but even an inch of water, God forbid one of our kids slips out the door. An inch of water is all they need. And I think it's like, you know, it's, it's not trying to scare everyone, but we also talk about it like, it, it can happen. So it's just there Speaker 3 00:34:29 Dogs are not drown proof either. Speaker 4 00:34:31 For Speaker 3 00:34:31 The podcast listeners, we just had a lovely great dane maybe show up on Speaker 4 00:34:35 The screen. Yes. Her name's on. She found me <laugh>. I Speaker 3 00:34:39 Usually have a, I usually have a cat, but I'm traveling. So, you know, it's Speaker 4 00:34:42 Like she's a little bigger Speaker 3 00:34:44 <laugh>. It's, it's interesting the, the, some of the things that we're talking about now around this whole shame and blame piece of, I have been stalking Brene Brown for years. 'cause I wanna have this conversation around, um, how, uh, around shame and blame in preventable injury and, and in case of drowning, because I feel like it's a huge piece of why we can't reach as many people with the messaging because people don't want to think about it or it doesn't apply to them. And, um, I worked with a mom who, her son, um, Christopher had drowned probably, I think it was 16 years earlier. And, um, she found her way to me, I don't even remember how, but he had drowned in his dive mask in the backyard pool. Like, they just, he didn't like to put his face in the water. And, um, so they, you know, he put a dive mask on, but they didn't think to teach him what, what to do if it fills up with water. Speaker 3 00:35:35 And, um, and so he drowned, but it took her 16 years, I think, to share his story because of the shame and the guilt and the blame and things like that. And that, I remember that conversation when I first started working with her, um, was, we have got to figure a way, because I do think it's a barrier around why people don't wanna listen until they're impacted, as you're mentioning. I agree. And, um, I've had conversations with people where you'll talk about drowning prevention or something, and suddenly you'll see someone be like, oh yeah, that did happen. Oh yeah. That happened to me when I was a kid. Or it's like buried in the back parts. It's not in the front of the Yeah. Consciousness or whatever. I, I don't know the answer to it, but, um, except conversation after conversation after conversation. Speaker 4 00:36:24 Yeah. And shame and blame are some of the hardest mental struggles you can experience as a human being, right? Yeah. And so it's really difficult. I mean, I could carry shame for allowing that little boy to be, you know, but I, I can't because I recognize I can't control every single situation. Yeah. Right. And that's, yeah. And that's where it's difficult is that a mom could be hypervigilant and just one second, it Speaker 3 00:36:49 Happens. Yep. Speaker 4 00:36:50 Yeah. And, and that's so hard because I can never imagine being a mother carrying that weight. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Well, and so Go ahead. Speaker 2 00:37:00 Well, no, I was just gonna say, you know, this brings me to, you know, um, one of the parents we work with quite a bit is Nicole Hughes. And she, you know, in her story, she'll explain how her son Levi, at a vacation home, you know, one second he's there on the couch and you know, she, you know, gave him a piece of a brownie brownie. She still had a piece of the brownie and, you know, looked out and he's face down in the pool. And she had no idea that drowning was even a thought at that time. Right, Speaker 4 00:37:27 Right. Speaker 2 00:37:28 Because it was a nons swim time. Right. And, you know, I know Nicole's experience this too is, you know, people say, well, you need to watch your child. Well, there's more to the story than just watch your child. Right? It's not that Nicole was a bad parent, it's, I think we've all been in that situation, right? Like right before dinner, you know, you're on vacation, a lot of activity, and it happens that quickly. And a child, you know, the, the water's an attractive nuisance and, you know, blame is so easy to go around, but at the same time mm-hmm. <affirmative> really happen to anyone. And if you're not aware, is there blame to even go around? Speaker 4 00:38:00 Well, and I think that's the hard part, you know, in talking about blame is that we want a reason why something happened as a human Right. Speaker 3 00:38:07 You wanna, it makes it more palatable. Speaker 4 00:38:09 Exactly. Like you can swallow that you're like, oh, well you are to blame because you weren't watching your child properly. Well, there's no proper way to watch a child outside of being hypervigilant. Right. But it happens. That's the problem with drowning is that it happens in the blink of an eye before you can be that hypervigilant parent that you already are. Right. So it's ensuring those initial barriers are set in place so that there's some kind of prevention or there's some kind of conversation. I mean, we walk into, like you're mentioning a vacation home and we mention, Hey, pull no fence locks on all doors. And we talk about all of that stuff with everybody that we're with, but that doesn't mean that I'm gonna prevent something by having that conversation. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:38:50 Yeah. Well, and o one other thing before we leave the topic of mental health that I think goes unrecognized or undiscussed oftentimes of drowning, and this was just recently brought up to me this week, was the, the kind of the ripple that comes off. You know, we talk a lot about the child or the adult that drowned, but you know, we at N D P A try to talk about it as the family, right? The family right. Is impacted, it's not 4,500 individuals that drown that year. It's 4,500 families that were affected by drowning. Um, and oftentimes that can be a child, it can be a mom, it could be a dad, it could be an older brother and sister that doesn't come home. And that has ripple effects, not just on the family, but on the friends, on the community. Um, and also, you know, on the first responders on the, the, the physicians that treat these families. And I don't think we have that kind of broad discussion enough to really take care of everyone in that mix. Right. It's right. That family dynamic, it's taking care of each other when something tragic happens. Speaker 4 00:39:52 Yeah. And I think that I, and that is, I mean, it's just a difficult thing, right? We talk about, Michael and I will talk about suicide, it's kind of that same story. Like it's, there's so many people affected in these major incidences and it's how do we help those people? Like, and I'm sure like you're saying, you get these phone calls and it's like, well, how do I help that mom that just experienced that? But then how do we touch the other parent or the grandparents or the siblings that were involved in this, in this horrible accident? And I, you know, I don't, I don't know the answer to that. I wish I did. I talking about blame and shame. I think that's one of the things, right? Yeah. Is breaking down that stigma of that. But it's also having these conversations that this stuff happens. No one is to blame. We don't get to judge anyone for it happening. It's part of human life and it's been happening for how many years prior, and there's a reason that it's the number one cause of death, like between the ages of one and four. Right? So that's kind of like, when you start to have those conversations, it's, it not that it dumbs it down, but it brings it down to a more human level than just this never happens. Speaker 2 00:40:56 Yeah. Well, I think that's a really important piece of, you know, we, we talk about being a water safety champion, right? And, and, you know, championing water safety and trying to do it in a positive and proactive way, but in, at, you know, when these incidents do happen, and inevitably, you know, this summer we're working as hard as we can to try and get the word out of reduced drownings. But, you know, uh, one other piece I'll bring into this too, and Alyssa, and I've had this discussion, uh, you know, constantly for years, is also the people working in water safety. Speaker 3 00:41:25 I, I, you read my mind, 'cause I was gonna bring that up. The, the aquatic professionals, the lifeguards, the bys, the guard. I mean, I know I, my heart represented, represented a family, uh, col Colin Holst. Um, I was the executive director of Colin's Hope for 13 years. And in my time, uh, he drowned in a lifeguarded pool. And in my 13 years he was my daughter's, uh, preschool classmate, which is how I found my way there. But in my 13 years after he drowned, I would be approached, I think I was approached by at least 30 or 35 people who had been at the pool that day and their family had witnessed, and they were profoundly impacted by that. And, and the, the lifeguards that are on their watch and, and they're human. They're hu it's like, this is like a human thing that I think sometimes we just, we forget about all of the, the people. Speaker 3 00:42:17 I mean, we were, you mentioned, um, suicide and I think there's a, there's some sort of number somewhere of like, someone's come up with a formula for how many people are impacted by each suicide or something like that. And, and in Texas we were, I was working with some researchers and we were trying to figure out a number like, is there, what is the number when there's a drowning, how many people are impacted by that drowning? And of course it's different in all of them, but something it's like not just the singular, you know, family or the, but there's so many ripple ripples out there. Yeah. It's huge. Speaker 2 00:42:50 And what I was gonna say is, you know, we, we need to champion water safety. We also need to champion each other in a way because Agreed. You know, I, and I will say, like I, you know, one of my staff members took the call from that mother that I mentioned, um, whose daughter John, right before Mother's Day. And I think she was a little bit taken back when, you know, she texted me kind of a wrap up of the conversation that she had with her and everything. And my first question to her was, are you okay? Because that's good for you. That's a difficult conversation to have and you have to take care of each other. Speaker 3 00:43:20 Right? You, you hit it. I ended up in secondary trauma counseling after 13 years of working with families because I didn't realize the profound impact it was gonna be on my own. Yeah. Um, yeah. And I think that's, this is such an important conversation. Like, I don't think we have it really. I Speaker 4 00:43:38 Mean, you guys too at N E P A, you're hearing these stories, right? You guys are affected, you're not directly affected, but you are indirectly affected. And how are you managing yourself after you take those phone calls or you have those difficult conversations? You know, it's, it that's, that's hard. Speaker 2 00:43:54 Yeah. Well, and and again, that's why I say I, I, you know, yes, we have to champion our cause and water safety and everything, but I think in the water safety space, we also have to champion each other, each other. Speaker 3 00:44:03 It's, yep. Agreed. Speaker 2 00:44:05 It's the, the affected families or whether it's, you know, just staff members working for foundations or advocates out there. You are exposed to things that, you know, are not the happiest of things. They are the worst things that we experience in, in humanity. Yeah. And I think that's where we all have to look out for each other. 'cause the last thing we want is, is for this to truly affect, you know, things beyond what we can't control. Right. And, and yes. You know, I never want a staff member to sit there and think to themselves and you know, oh my gosh, you know, this is just such a tragic scenario and them harm themselves. Do something that, you know, no one wants to see happen. So I think checking on each other and, and always, you know, championing each other is a huge part of this as well. Um, so as we run out of time on the podcast, I have to ask you both. So I'm gonna reserve a little bit of extra time for this. Um, our most famous question, I think on the podcast, Speaker 3 00:44:55 I love this question, Speaker 2 00:44:57 Um mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which is, if I handed you a magic water safety wand and you could change one thing in water safety in the United States, big or small, what would it be? And Marissa, we haven't heard from you in a few minutes, so I'm gonna start with you on this one. Speaker 5 00:45:14 Thank you. Um, I'm gonna go with that. If I could change anything that kids kind of intuit knew how to swim, so like right outta the womb, swimming out like water birth to a whole new level. Okay, we're swimming, we're doing all four strokes, and then we can get rid of this statistic. I mean, I think learning how to swim can, can, um, help. What it's, that's what we're trying to do. Right? So I, I'm gonna go with that wild dancer. Speaker 3 00:45:46 Oh wow. Love it. That's a great visual. Speaker 4 00:45:48 I know. I love your answer. I'm imagining, I'm Speaker 3 00:45:50 Imagining some sort of, uh, video with that. Like, I like that, Speaker 4 00:45:54 That Speaker 5 00:45:54 Like a, like a newborn doing the backstroke, right? Speaker 4 00:45:57 Yes. Speaker 2 00:45:58 That, that is I think one of our more unique answers on the podcast. So season because, but you know, often it's so funny, we talk about swimming is not an, you know, an an intuitive skill for people. And yeah, I think the wish of making an intuitive skill is, is super cool. Uh, Speaker 5 00:46:12 That and Adam, that wasn't, that was my game time decision answer. So, uh, Speaker 4 00:46:17 <laugh> Speaker 5 00:46:18 We're gonna, but we're gonna keep with it. We're gonna keep with it because Speaker 3 00:46:21 That's a good one. Speaker 5 00:46:22 That's usually, Speaker 4 00:46:23 This is why we love Marissa <laugh>. She thinks outside of the box. Speaker 2 00:46:26 Yes, she does. I Speaker 3 00:46:27 Love Or the womb Outside of the womb. Speaker 4 00:46:29 Yeah, outside of the womb. <laugh>. Speaker 2 00:46:31 Alright, Nicole, same question over to you. What's one thing you could change if you could? Speaker 4 00:46:36 So my, um, my change would be everyone being water comfortable, which then hopefully would allow people to get swim lessons or become water safe. Speaker 2 00:46:46 Yeah. I think that's Speaker 3 00:46:48 More comfortable. I like that too. Speaker 2 00:46:49 Exactly. Well, you know, we talk about, you know, the adults that drown in this country. Speaker 4 00:46:53 That's what I mean, right? Yeah. Just be water comfortable because then they'll also encourage their children to go get that help too. Speaker 3 00:47:01 Break down that stop the cycle of the Yeah. Speaker 4 00:47:04 The generational cycle of fear. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, Speaker 2 00:47:06 Those are, those are so important. And I mean it, you know, really, I mean that's what I love saying that out to people. Like, and if you're an adult and you don't know how to swim, it's never too late. Even if you're scared, go find the right program. I mean, there are opportunities to learn to swim. Um, so with that empowering message, we will, uh, wrap today's, uh, N D P A Water Safety Champion podcast. Thanks so much to Nicole Phelps and Marissa Fortier for joining us today. We really, really appreciate it. Um, and if you don't know about the Michael Phelps Foundation, go check out the Michael Phelps [email protected]. Learn all about their programs and ways you can support, uh, the great, the work that they're doing. Um, thanks so much for listening and tune into the next episode of the N D P A Water Safety Champion Podcast. Stay safe, everyone.

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