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Not One More Child Drowns: Infant Swimming Resource by Marla Carnes - CrossFit Journal

In CrossFit, Kids

August 29, 2011

PDF Article

Marla Carnes shares her story of tragedy and explains how you can prevent infant drowning.

I was at a bridal shower with my son Sterling when I heard one of the women yell, “Call 911!”

Then I heard the rest of the sentence: “Something happened to Sterling!”

I stood up from the table, and I was paralyzed with shock. I couldn’t move and didn’t know what to do or where to go. Someone must have said he had fallen into the pool. My brain was trying to process all this, as we had seen Sterling go into the hostess’s bedroom but never saw him come out. I was thinking, “How did he get outside?”

As I was pushed outside, I saw my son lying on the side of the pool and the first lady who had gone to check on the kids was all wet as she performed CPR with another lady. He was a bluish-green color. I was trying to stay calm because I thought my son was going to be OK. As I approached him, I realized that he wasn’t opening his eyes and wasn’t breathing.

Special ISR videos will be released Aug. 29, 30 and 31 in the CrossFit Journal.

CrossFit Kids supports ISR’s mission that “not one more child drowns.” Participate in Fight Gone Bad 6 on Sept. 17, 2011, to reach 3,000 kids. 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.

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13 Comments on “Not One More Child Drowns: Infant Swimming Resource”


wrote …

Why is this in a fitness journal?


wrote …

This is in a fitness journal because fitness is about having the skills and abilities needed to respond to what life throws at you. A 2 year old little boy can have the skills to save his own life in this type of situation and spare his family unspeakable grief. Hence the CrossFit Kids initiative. It is also in the journal because many of us have children and want them to be prepared and safe.


wrote …

I read the article with tears in my eyes...


replied to comment from Susan Morgan

I'm sorry but...are you serious? The article is a family telling their story of pain and suffering and how it can help you avoid the same fate and all you think is "why is this in a fitness journal?" Big picture. Think about it.


wrote …

Thank you Marla for sharing your story with us. I am a father of one, soon to be two (tomorrow! wife is being induced), CrossFit affiliate owner and an MD. I have seen many people removed from life support and yet your tragedy struck me personally. I am not ashamed to admit I read Sterling's last days with tears in my eyes. I am donating money to ISR as we speak and will encourage my members to do the same.


wrote …

Wow. A very powerful story. Thank you to Marla for telling it. I'm certain Sterling's story will help others to see the need for ISR. This is important work.


wrote …

I am really confused as to why people think this should not be in a fitness journal.

How old are you? When did you learn to swim?

I am a swimming teacher and have been for 16 years. The results of infant swimming lessons are out standing, not only does it keep you fit, but the proof is in the article, it SAVES LIVES!!!!!! I have several 2 and a half year old children that can swim competently and if they were to get into a dangerous situation would have the skills to get themselves out of it, or extend their rate of survival.

The earlier you teach water safety/confidence the faster they will pick up this Life long skill, which as we saw at the crossfit games is starting to be recognized by the crossfit world as a great training tool.

Crossfit is about overall health/well being (wellness) and dealing with all situations in life wether it be physically or mental.

Infant swim programs not only teach the water safety elements, they help develop confidence, hand eye coordination, communication, verbalization, fine motor skills, cooperation, locomotion, rhythm, concentration, listening, body awareness, left/right brain integration, bilateral work, breathe control.......

Aren't all these skills great attributes for crossfitters, actually aren't these skills great to deal with this thing we call life?

A lot of teachers develop infant programs differently, I am not saying all programs have the skills and knowledge to save every child, and I am sure children in the ISR program that become startled out of the blue will not always survive but the chances are a lot higher after your child has been subjected to a good swimming program.

The point I am trying to get across is that the earlier you start good lessons the higher the chance of survival!!!!!! with the added bonus of setting our crossfit kids up for a better, brighter future in this sport and the game of life.....

Thank you for Marla forsharing your story and my heart goes out to you for this unfortunate loss


wrote …

As a father of a beautiful daughter who just turned 13 months, I would like to thank Marla for sharing the story. Our family's prayer will remember your son and your family and wishing you nothing but the best.

So FGB this year is supporting ISR as well huh?....that's pretty dope


wrote …

Sophia, my 2 year old daughter went through ISR this summer. Prior to ISR we had spent a lot of time from 2 or 3 months old on getting her used to the water and even swimming under water for 20 feet at about 18 months, but she wasn't able to float on her own nor did she know how to grab the side of the pool. She was so comfortable in the water that she was even more at risk than before.

We decided at the beginning of the summer that her ability to survive in water would be a top priority (above most other child development goals like potty training, drinking from a cup etc.) When you take your child to the pediatrition for the first couple of times, you ask hundreds of questions about what is best for the child and how to keep them healthy. What if all pediatritions started recommending that infants be taught to survive in water. What a difference that would make. Drowning is the #1 cause of death for children under 4 in 14 States.

Sophia was asked to demonstrate her survival skills at the CrossFit Games on Saturday. She started out afraid of all the people and the unfamiliar surroundings, but ended up performing like a champ and really showing what she could do (her parents were very proud).


wrote …

With a brand new daughter years ago, the first of two, and after witnessing a near-drowning, we adopted the following watchword: 'It's more important to teach a child to swim than it is to read.'


wrote …

Fitness journal???. I am also am a father of two infants but if I wanted to read this stuff I would pick up the daily newspaper. Great informative article don't get me wrong!, just wrong forum.


wrote …

Jamie, as we say here in Miami, que cojones!!!! If fitness is about the strength, skills, and stamina to not only survive but exist in your environment, why would an article about the pain that results from a 2 year old child not having those skills not belong in a fitness journal??? At what age do you want your children fit and "prepared?" To quote Seth "Big picture"..... You are a parent!!! it's not all about you anymore.


Jeff Martin wrote …

Anne (
I want to thank you for your comments and defense of this article. This is an important project, and one we at CrossFit Kids are deeply committed to.

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