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Sterling’s Story Part 2: Maintaining Hope by Marla Carnes - CrossFit Journal

In CrossFit, HD Videos, Kids

August 30, 2011

Video Article

Marla Carnes is mother to a son who died of drowning in March 2007. CrossFit Kids is teaming up with the Infant Swimming Resource (ISR), which seeks to protect children against drowning through preparedness training.

In Part 2, Carnes shares more of her story about the drowning of her son. At the emergency room she was allowed to see her son.

“Hope goes through the roof,” she recalls.

However, her son was hooked up to machines and still wasn’t breathing on his own. For nine days she stayed with him as he struggled to survive. But when Sterling didn't improve, the doctors asked the family to make a decision.

“How can I decide to take my child off of life support?” she asked. “When should you let your child die? That’s not something that a mom should have to decide.”

The alternative was a vegetative state.

“That would be the worst thing that I could ever do to my son,” she says. “My son was so full of life and so happy, and he loved to laugh and play and to be a kid and to be free.”

Carnes knows her son’s tragedy could have been avoided: “I know 100 percent without a shadow of a doubt my son would be here today if he had had those ISR classes.”

Part 3 will be released on Aug. 31.

CrossFit Kids supports ISR’s mission that “not one more child drowns.” To find out more, visit

Participate in Fight Gone Bad 6 on Sept. 17, 2011, to support the ISR initiative. Sign up for the fundraiser at and make a donation by texting “FGB6” to 57682. From outside the U.S., text “FGB6” to 4246751014. The minimum donation is $10 and standard text-message rates apply.

13min 13sec

HD file size: 471 MB
SD wmv file size: 259 MB
SD mov file size: 144 MB

Please note: These files are larger than normal Journal videos. For smoother viewing, please download the entire file to your hard drive before watching it (right-click and choose Save Link As...).

Additional audio: CrossFit Radio Episode 136 by Justin Judkins, published Sept. 8, 2010.

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5 Comments on “Sterling’s Story Part 2: Maintaining Hope”


wrote …

This series is absolutely breaking my heart. Every Crossfitter should commit themselves to making sure "not one more child drowns". I am doing FGB6 and I'm raising money for fantastic programs like ISR - my hope is no one will have to go through what these people went through.


wrote …

Heartbreaking series. I sit here with tears running down my face as my 3 year sleeps in his bed. He too had swim lessons at the age of two, which were more about being comfortable in the water than actually learning how to swim. I will commit to taking the necessary steps to get him into proper swim lessons so he can learn how to really swim.

My heart goes out to you, Marla.


wrote …

Unbelievably heart-wrenching! Thank you, Marla, for sharing your horrific story, but for also turning your grief into an advocacy for others. You are so courageous.

Nice work on the video too, Carey. Very well done. :)


wrote …

I'm crying my guts out looking at those pictures and reading that 3 sons and the thought of loosing them. Well, back in the pool with them and due some lanes.


wrote …

Very very moving...I am trying to hold back my tears, as I look down to my 4 month old daughter who is sleeping on my lap. Thank you for sharing your story with us! You are indeed courageous.

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