Kylin Bain was sitting at the edge of the pool at a family gathering in Port Arthur last October when she noticed that a younger child had strayed into the deep end and appeared to be in trouble.
“He kept going under,” said Kylin, a 10-year-old fourth-grader at St. Monica Catholic School.
Though she felt pretty comfortable in the shallow end of the pool, she had never had formal swim training, much less lifesaving lessons. Even so, when she saw that little boy struggling and heard his grandmother scream for help, Kylin sprang into action.
“I slapped down my phone and I dived in and I pulled him until he could stand up,” she said.
It was a tough thing to do. Though the boy was a year younger, he was taller than her. And he was frightened.
“He was kind of grabbing me and trying to sink me in (the water) because he was scared,” Kylin said. “He was holding on to my waist and I had to go under water and swim.”
The incident was scary for the adults, too.
“Everybody was in shock because she just dove in,” said Kylin’s mom, Felicia Bain. “I’m like, ‘She can’t swim.’ It definitely shows you how somebody can drown in a split-second because we were just kind of standing there with our mouths open.”
Kylin, who is an active member of Girl Scout Troop 1318 in Schertz, will be recognized for her bravery at a ceremony in May. She will receive the Lifesaving Bronze Cross from the Girl Scouts of the USA. The award is given to scouts for saving or attempting to save someone’s life while putting their own lives at risk.
Kylin’s troop leader, Angela Roundtree, said she was surprised when she heard about what happened — “Her mother had said Kylin is not a good swimmer” — but she’s also proud.
“It shows these girls can do anything,” she said.
After this summer, the list of things Kylin can do will grow by at least one: Her mom and her dad will be signing her up for swim lessons.
Formal swim lessons are a key to water safety, said Crystal Vega, association aquatics director for the YMCA of Greater San Antonio. Lessons ingrain skills so that if a swimmer finds herself in trouble, she knows what to do, decreasing the odds that a tragedy will occur.
“I just had a mother tell me that she was at the lake with her daughter, who is 4, and she fell into the water,” Vega said. “She just rolled onto her back.”
The little girl, who has been taking swim lessons at the Y, didn’t seem shaken by what happened, the mom told Vega. Instead, she said, “she was mad because she got dirty.”
The national YMCA spent three years updating the way that it teaches swimming, placing the emphasis on water safety.
The San Antonio Y also is developing a program to offer free swim lessons at apartment pools this summer.
Two children in Bexar County drowned in apartment pools last year, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
“We want to curb the drowning rate,” Vega said.
By Deborah Martin, Staff Writer