HERO: Spurred by near-tragedy, she teaches kids to swim

By Bill Murphy, Everyday Hero Host
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 15, 2017, 10:02 AM EST

Kari Bahour is saving lives - one at a time. 

  • Everyday Hero Kari Bahour teaches swimming to young children
  • Her own son almost drowned at 16 months
  • Water Smart Tots

And she's doing it to prevent a tragedy that almost struck her own family. 

Bahour says it is her mission to teach infants how to swim. She is the founder of the non-profit Water Smart Tots in Riverview. 

She said she wants to stop pediatric drownings in her community with the focus on infants and young children to six years of age from financially underprivileged families and those with special needs. 

Bahour began teaching swimming survival skills after her son, when he was 16 months old, nearly drowned in a pool with many adults present. She said there was no screaming or a cry for help. 

"It just made me more aware of how quiet and silent a tragedy like drowning can be," Bahour said. 

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The statistics are frightening: 

In 18 states, including Florida, drowning for children 4 years old and under is the no. 1 cause of accidental deaths. 

It's numbers like that that have led parents to seek out Bahour, who stresses that she doesn't teach swim lessons but survival lessons. 

"The goal here is if they were to fall into the pool or water, they can at least roll onto their back, get air and breathe," she said. "And wait for help to arrive." 

With students so young, many not even talking yet, Bahour compares it to training a dog. She uses behavior modification and schedules of reinforcement. 

And the memory of her near tragedy is never far away as she helps others. 

"I just feel because my son was given a second chance, I need to give back." Bahour said.