Episode 4: Drowning Prevention - Davina's Swim House

Episode 4: Drowning Prevention - Davina's Swim House

Welcome to our fourth episode in our drowning prevention series. Today, we speak with Davina Lopez from Davina's Swim House in Toronto. Ontario. Davina is going to speak to us this morning about her swim school, the importance of water safety and things to pay attention to when you guys are out at the cottage and like the summer and what she's doing to help keep people safe.






Below you will find an unedited transcript of our conversation. You can find the Youtube link next to the text or by clicking here

Welcome to our fourth episode in our drowning prevention series. Today, we speak with Davina Lopez from Davina's Swim House in Toronto. Ontario. Davina is going to speak to us this morning about her swim school, the importance of water safety and things to pay attention to when you guys are out at the cottage and like the summer and what she's doing to help keep people safe.


Welcome Davina.


Hey, Jason, how you doing? Well, thank you very much for making time. Um, and, um, welcoming Davina, like I said, from Davina's Swim House in Toronto Ontario. Um, and this is the fourth episode in our Drowning prevention series, trying to bring some key information to people. , as swimming lessons have been closed for the last.


You know, on and off for the last year and a half, essentially. And, uh, we're going into what predictably might be, um, a summer of increased routings as we saw last summer. And we're hoping to avoid that. And people like Davina, um, are getting the information out to her community and hopefully sharing they're sharing information outside of that.


So, um, Davina. I want to start out with the question that I've asked has been my opening question in all the interviews that I've done on this particular subject. Because as we mentioned before, it's curious why we're even having this conversation. Um, but in Canada and north America in general, do we take the concepts of water safety for granted because of folks like that?


You do such a great job of doing this under normal circumstances and the people that are making key decisions now in the middle of a pandemic are not paying attention to, um, the risks, um, that exists around drowning. 


Yeah, no, it's such an important question. Um, definitely. I, I think there are certain populations that definitely take it for granted.


Uh, you know, seeing it, you know, just in Canada, mainly just being closed off for the past, you know, on and off for the past year and a bit, um, you know, w just talking with just families with young kids and. Talking to them about that little pool in the backyard that they just purchased from, you know, uh, Canadian tire Walmart or something, or even just the, a little bit of a bigger pool or a brand new pool.


They don't realize the dangers that, that is involved with it because their kids obviously haven't been in some lessons. So the, the education piece that we would give is not, is not getting translated. And, um, you know, it's just as simple as. You know, having that locked gate and, and always knowing where your, your child is, uh, at all times, you know, and turning over that little pool that you bought at Canadian tire, or like I said, Walmart, because you know, it only takes a few inches of water.


Um, for, uh, for some per child to drown. Um, and so it's, it's getting that education piece and obviously getting into boating season and cottages and all those, uh, different dynamics of water that we have in our lovely country here in Canada. It's like, it's great that we have those. Those those bodies of water, but a lot of people are not quite understanding all the dangers that could be involved as well.


Um, and just having that water safety education piece missing in the last year and a half, I I'm pretend, I I'm constantly thinking about it. Um, just being an educator. Uh, and I know a lot of my colleagues have as well, and we've tried to. You know, implore the government to, to take it seriously. And a lot of the thing is a lot of people don't just realize, um, because they've been exposed their whole life to water and they, they are swimmers themselves.


Um, they, they know as common sense as it is to me. And you. It's not necessarily to that year old or two year old or that, you know, uh, and it's been proven like immigrant families or people who've come to this country and they're not used to these types of bodies of water and they want to just go away for a weekend and they go hang out a beach that doesn't have lifeguards.


Yeah, they think it's safe to swim, but there's a current or there's they can't touch the bottom and they don't know how to swim. So there's a lot of impeding factors that come in and our job, uh, some school owners and anybody in the swim industry, our job is to educate and. That job unfortunately, has been taken away from us in the last year and a half.


So there's definitely a concern, um, on that piece. Um, and, and I was just speaking, actually, I don't know, sorry for blabbing on here, but I was just speaking to, um, one of my, one of my friends, who's a dentist to have my kids at the dentist today and he was telling me how he's fearful of his four-year-old because she's missed a year and a half of lessons.


And when they were on their previous trip before COVID, um, he turned for one second. And he said his, his child went under the water. He didn't even hear it. And he just turned back and he had to grab her. He was like, I did not realize that it's silent and it's quick. And he's a very educated person, but a lot of people don't realize that.


And that's what you know is our job is to teach children how to swim. But not only that to teach that child, maybe not to step off the ledge or all those types of safety things that, uh, that we do as a profession. So I hope I answered your 


question there. That was fantastic answer. Very complete. Um, you know, so in the absence of a desire from government bodies to recognize and, um, you know, take action on the importance of drowning prevention, water, safety, and so on and so forth by default, they rely on people like you.


Who, you know, you take your passion, you drive it into a business and you create this amazing service. Right. So, um, you know, first of all, thank you for doing what you do. Um, that, to what, what drives you? Like why is it so important for you to get this message out? What, what is behind the passion 


right now?


Just to get that message out is, you know, it is have. You know, if you do have the bodies of water, your access, they're accessible to you, just learn about them, um, and make sure your children know about them because unfortunately we can't. Do anything right now to teach you, teach your child or yourself on a weekly basis.


So, you know, look, look at the different websites that are out. There's tons of water, safety, education websites, um, and you know, I'm sure you've posted a few. I have, you know, just look at what are potential Jane, dangerous around water. Cause we just don't realize it. Um, you know, when you have that, a couple of people over at a pool party and you don't have an assigned person to watch the pool.


You know, like I said, it doesn't take long it's, it's silent, um, for a child to slip under water. So making sure you have a dedicated person there to, to watch the water, um, you know, in simple as with boating, you know, everybody should be wearing a life jacket. You know, I know it's uncomfortable and it's not great, but what if the boat hits something you could fall out and it's not your swimming ability at that point that might save you.


If let's say you were to be knocked unconscious, it would be the life jacket that saves you. So it's just things like that, that we don't assume are big deals, but they can be, and it can be. You know, it can be that decision with life and death. And so I just want people to just educate themselves as much as they can at this point.


Um, and then the minute that we're able to open, bring, bring your families. And because, you know, we want to, we want to get back to teaching. Um, important life skills to people. 


Yeah. And I'm assuming that's a plea, regardless of wherever they are, regardless, wherever you are, get into swimming lessons and water safety education, so on and so forth.


Um, just, just to bring your point full circle, uh, And, you know, an example, uh, you used, um, you know, uh, new Canadians, um, and people desiring to take on vacation, stuff like that. And I recall the incident in Vancouver last summer, where, um, a family of three went out to a local beach, um, One and they weren't swimmers.


Um, one of them went a little bit too far where they can touch the ground, started to panic. Um, the two parents went after they couldn't swim either and all three ended up losing their lives. Right. And it's just, it's really an awareness thing because you know, like the beaches are there and they're beautiful.


You want, and people love it. Well, I would do them, but often there's no markers. There's no nothing to show where the lead drops off or where it gets super deep or whatever the case is. And these are all the things that we need to know and need to be aware of. So I appreciate you sharing that. 




And another thing, just give mine, I don't know how it's going to be this summer, but I know in Ontario last summer, because there, um, a lot of the beaches weren't open cause they were trying to keep people from, you know, gathering. What was happening is then those beaches are losing the lifeguards and people are still like, well, I can still go to a different beach and they might not have that lifeguard, or they're getting forced to beaches or, or unsafe areas that aren't normally guarded anyways.


Um, but yet they're going swimming. Cause it's like a thing to do in terms of cooling off or, you know, like you said, it looks great, looks fun. Um, and that, because the other body of water is not accessible to them. They're now going to somewhere that wouldn't isn't safe. And so please keep that in mind that just because it looks great, you really need to know the area.


Fair enough. So I want to go into kind of like a bullet point or a checkpoint list if I kind of put you on the spot here, cause I didn't get any of this before, but if you can give us how to like, uh, to list a bullet point list for what to pay attention to for all those people that are rushing. To put it in backyard pools this summer, or may have done it last summer.


And all of the people that, you know, will spend a little bit extra time, you know, at the beach or on a boat or whatever. And they wouldn't normally have had to. So we've got two separate ideas and two separate environments or ecosystems where we have to look to be safe. So for the backyard pool, what are some checkpoints that people should really pay attention to?


So in, in Ontario it's law, basically that they have to have a gate around their, their backyard. If there's a pool inside. However, if you have young kids invest the money and get a gate, that's separate for just the pool area. Um, cause you know, that child can sneak outside in the backyard, sees the beautiful water, but if you have that extra barrier, A hundred percent it's worth money.


You do it because you don't want an accident to happen to make sure that it's like self latching gate so that even if somebody does leave it open it latches on its own. Um, so just have that safety measure, um, in place, um, just in terms of always looking for hazards in and around your pool, you know, um, so, you know, obviously don't want people slipping and falling or, or what have you.


So just looking for general slip and stuff that you can slip on or, or trip over, um, you know, always making sure that somebody is. Having their eyes on the pool in terms of when you have any child that is in that pool, you should not be within further than arms reach. Um, because like I said, it happens it's fast and it happens quick and you need to be able to grab that child.


Um, if you, um, just basically having always like the accessibility to a phone, um, uh, nearby just for an emergency purposes. Um, you know, making sure that if you are having, if you have a little bit older kids or what have you, and they're coming, some kids are coming over to swim. Um, when we're not in isolation, you know, when they're coming over, just make sure that you do, you make sure that the kids know how to swim.


Um, I've been around too many times where, um, you think they all know how to swim. The kids are all in our bathing suits, ready to go. And then this kid just jumps into the deep end and boom they're, they're not swimming. So just make sure that they do a little bit of a swim test to look at the ability and, and, you know, life jacket on that kid, if they don't know how to swim.


Um, making sure that they're, you know, obviously know, um, drinking and swimming are the same as drinking and driving. So if you are watching the pool, you're sober. You know, if you're going in the pool, you're sober, you know, um, just the things like that also, um, a big thing is diving. Um, a lot of pools aren't deep enough.


So just making sure that you know, your surroundings. Um, I usually, and I, my, my kids, they love me, but they hate me all at the same time. Um, because when they ever, they are friends over, I'm like, there's no diving. There's no, there's no that, but because these people think these kids don't know my pool and I pointed out to all of them.


I'm like, here's where the. The hill drop-off is, um, because I don't know what they're going to do or not do. Right. So, uh, you know, make sure people are aware of what your pool is and how it drops off, or there's like a blind spot to something, you know, that those things are important. And if you have a lot of floaties in your pool and you have a lot of kids in the pool, really try hard, not to have so many floaties in the pool, cause it's easy for a kid to slip underneath them and, and then you don't see them.


And it's just an. You don't need that hazard there. Um, if you, if you can avoid it. 


Yeah, it seems like there's a lot we can do to mitigate, you know, accidents, but all there's a lot of stuff that you may not pay attention to. Cause it's normally wrapped up in fun and stuff like that. And being able to see the bottom of the pool is critical and 


seeing the bottom of the pool kept testing your pool, making sure that the chemicals are good.


A lot of people don't know how to test their pool. So, you know, just go online. There there's a million YouTube verbal online, and just look at, look at how they do it and test your pool because you know, you don't want that uncomfortable rash or whatever it is, or it could be dangerous. Right. So, yeah, making sure you can see the bottom of the pool is a big one clarity and, um, as well as testing the pool, 


Fair enough.


And I mean, I shared a lot of those points will cross over to open water if you're out at a lake ocean or on a boat or whatever, you mentioned life jackets before. I mean, what else do you do? 


Well, it's a life jacket. So like, you know, just kids in general, like if they're just playing around and, um, they're not swimmers yet having them play around in a life jacket, like won't hurt anyone.


So just put them in life jacket. Make your life a lot easier. Um, you know, even if they're just playing around at the shore, you know, you just don't know when a wave comes or turn around for one second, they run in one direction towards like, you know, the water. It just helps everybody out. Um, As well as kids should know how to put on and off their life jacket properly, um, you know, making sure that it fits properly.


That's another big one. A lot of people don't have the right sizing for life jacket. So there's lots of, again, YouTube videos on how to properly fit a life jacket. Um, for lots of different sizes. Yeah. Children, and like, there's, there's a whole slew of different huh. Places that they can look at. Um, you know, I know red cross lifesaving society, they all have, uh, lots of, uh, water safety, um, uh, websites, uh, dedicated to that.


Um, and then just making sure, like, again, you don't know where the drop-offs are. Find out where they are in terms of a lake water or a body of water that you're going to, if the river, you know, if it's not marked as a place to swim, usually it's because it shouldn't be a place to swim. So don't, don't just go if you don't know.


Um, you know, and I, again, just, you know, it's the general sort of safety things. If you're not sure about something, don't do it, you know, um, if you're not sure how deep something is, don't dive in, uh, you know, uh, When, and then you said when we're boating, you know, make sure that your boat is, um, I mean, obviously you should have a Boulder's curb.


Um, the license, you know, um, that's provided by, I believe it's all the different provinces have their own, but, um, basically if you have your Boulder's card, then you should know what should be in your boat in terms of like, you know, uh, flares, flashlight, uh, um, you know, uh, paddle P you know, life jackets for everybody who's on board where the life jacket.


Same thing as a car, don't drink and drive and don't drink and boat. Um, a lot of people don't associate the two together. It's kind of weird that you just assume that you can have a few beers on your boat. Um, you know, it's okay if the passengers have a beer or two, but the driver should not be, um, because it's the same concept.


Um, you know, just make sure you have enough gas and if you are on a big, big lake, you know, um, Make sure that somebody knows where you're going. That's also another thing is don't swim alone. Um, you know, even myself very, you know, swam for many years on a swim team and I'm a very confident swimmer. I don't swim alone.


Um, you know, it's just a general rule. I just don't know if I slip and fall. And I can hurt myself or her that unknown. Right? Like you end up in a bad situation, just somebody there to bail you out so you can enjoy the water. And then water can be a lot of fun. And I know that I have tons of fun in the summer, um, lakes and stuff like that, but I just, we do it safely and it will make your summer more enjoyable if nobody's injured or her, um, or worried.


Right. You know, um, fall proper precautions and you should be okay. 


Fantastic. Yeah, very comprehensive list. And I just want to clarify, we were talking about, uh, PDFs, like one of the questions I hear people, but one of the things I hear people talking about all the time. So I said, PDF PDF, sorry. It's a computer file.


The other one's a life-saving device. Don't waste the money anyways. Um, puddle jumpers are not, uh, PFDs. 


Correct. Yeah. Yep. You have to make sure that a lot of those and a lot of them are great little devices, um, with kids, but if they're in a puddle jumper, you're beside them, you know, like it doesn't excuse you from like sitting back 10 feet because they can slip out of them.


Um, you know, and you know, there's always, the, they're not meant to be a life-saving device, just like a noodle flutter board. All those things are great to assist in certain things, but they're not meant to replace the adults, you know? So just as long as you're aware that, you know, even a life jacket shouldn't be replacing the adults, um, you know, but it's, it's a precautionary thing and it just.


Keeps that element a little bit safe and most kids don't care to be honest when they're wearing that, as long as they're playing and having fun. Right? So, um, uh, yeah, the puddle jumper, or, you know, even a swim fin, those things are they're great. Great things for. You know, having the child swim around and, and play and learn and, and do independent work, but it doesn't replace that you need to still be there within the arts.


Fair enough. Fair enough. Um, so I want to turn to what you're doing at your swim school. So, um, like you guys have, um, you know, you obviously do a great job on social media, but you have a, an ecosystem of cohort of clients and customers and so on and so forth. What have you been telling them? Over the last year.


And how have you been communicating to them in terms of what to pay attention to for water safety and so on and so forth? To 


be honest. Um, we haven't been the best in last six months. Um, you know, um, last year we did do some different safety messages. Like, you know, again, don't be within arms reach. Don't get distracted by your phone.



The phone is actually a big one as well. Like your phone down if you're watching kids in a pool. Um, so, you know, uh, again, boat safety, um, sun safety, all that kind of stuff. We've been, we've been putting out, um, on social media and. You know, we just we've been hopeful to be open, was been put onto social media last six months.


I have to admit, we were kind of just not really sure what to post at this point. Cause we've been sort of going through this cycle of, so we're getting back into it as the summer approaches and um, yeah, so we'll just continue with our safety messages and hopefully people will just see them and adhere to them.


And. And I'm hoping that at least it makes a difference in, in a few people's lives. Right. And the collective of all of my colleagues and all sums go owners and anybody who's involved in swimming, you know, if we all do it, it reaches that many more people. 


Yeah, absolutely. And I'm hoping like, you know, in an initiative like this can help as well.


You know, even if it just, if it helps save one person that summer, then it's all worth it. Right. So, um, we, we wanna, you know, get that drowning rate down to zero. Um, but that said, um, you know, It's it's nice when you have, or it's helpful when you have like world bodies, like the who saying that this is a world epidemic and we all need to pay attention to it.


And so on and so forth, let alone Canada, the world is covered, you know, 70% water, right? So you to learn how to swim 


and like who basically they say is Berry first, first line of defense is barriers, which is like the fencing. And the second line of defense is some lessons, right? 


Yeah. Yeah. And I guess going back to my original question, it's just curious why, you know, like we don't seem to prioritize that here.


Right. When it is, you know, like you, don't the fact that we, we have a world body that says that it's great, but it's kind of like, you know, somebody telling you to remember to drink water or to eat, like these are basic things you need to do to survive. Right. And this is one of them. 


And, you know, it's just, like I said, a bunch of us, you know, have been lobbying governments to, to make it as considered as an essential, you know, it's like, it's like for them more children going to school, right.


It's the same thing. It's, it's a life skill. Um, you know, and like you said, tell me, wait, Joe sees it as a, as a, uh, as a problem worldwide. I'm not sure where our government is and why they're not standing up and, and, uh, letting us do what we do. Um, it's, it's unfortunate. Um, but I, I do believe that what we've learned out of this whole entire year is as a collective group, we're working really well together that some school industry, I know, you know, most of the people that I'm referring to, um, and we're not done with the pandemic.


We're not, we're not going to say after the pandemic, we're going to stop this fight for being classified. As essential, we know are essential, we're going to fight and make sure that the government as well knows that we're essential and that everybody out there. And if you ask any, any parent out there and you talk to them about this, they're like you are essential.


So. I'm not sure why the political people are doing what they're doing, but like you said, it's like drinking water and, and, you know, eating healthy, you need to learn how to swim. And, and most people see that here. Um, you know, it's just, we just got to make a little bit more noise, I guess. 


Yeah. And I'm definitely aware of all the work that you guys have been doing as a, as a group lobbying.


Maybe let's, let's talk about what can the general public do. We can get a couple of words out to the general public, who can they write? What drum can they bang to, um, you know, get the information out and help support that caused that fight that you just alluded to. 


Um, it really it's it, I mean, at this point, I'm not sure how much they're listening.


Um, I know obviously the vaccine role is, is priority number one right now, and it should be, um, but it's, it's writing their MP, MPPs, you know, letters to politicians. Um, that's pretty much how we're going to get noticed. I think, you know, at this point, um, in terms of what they can do. I don't know 


that that's fair.


I mean, like, I just, I thought if we could, you know, by virtue of this video, if we could recruit, if you know, a few voices, you know, like, and then point them in the right direction and say, go do this right. And you've done that, right. Your MP, right. Your MPP, right. Your MLA, whoever it is just, you know, make them know that this is important.


So on and so forth. Yeah. 


Your vote counts. Right. And they want you to, they want. Any voter is, is going to get attention. So hopefully if we can get a, you know, a few more people to do that, that'd be 


awesome. Yeah, absolutely. Well, look, um, I want to thank you for your time and sharing all that information and you shoulder shared a wealth of information and we'll, like I said, we'll put it out there and, you know, hopefully there's some folks out there that will pick up something they didn't know and so on and so forth.


Um, Yeah. And, uh, you know, we can go from there, like personally with my three little kids, I'm very grateful to the summer school industry, because I had one of those silent moments, you know, a few months ago where one of our little ones like slipped into the pool, you know, not because of anything, malicious just slipped on a puddle of water and on Obama and into the water.


Right. And nobody saw. Right because there was some, so I'm, I'm, I am eternally grateful to the swim school industry and what you guys do. Right. And so I thank you for that. I thank you for what you do in your area and so on and so 


forth. Well, we all thank you, you know, for making this, this podcast and, you know, in getting the message out.


Right. And, you know, you're, you're helping all, you've been supportive to all of us, so, you know, thank you. And, and, um, you know, we appreciate you guys as well, and all the stuff that you guys do for us, 


Well, that's awesome. So, I mean, I wish you all the best. I hope lessons are went up in Toronto. I mean, not just for the sake of business, but really for the sake of safety.


Absolutely. And, uh, you know, we kind of go from there. Yeah. 


All right. Well, 


thank you. Yeah, no, my pleasure. All the best. Give my best to the team and, uh, we look forward to connecting soon. Great. Okay. Thanks. Thanks for watching. I hope you check us out. Anything that you need. We've got it at www.oceanjunction.com. .

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