July 21, 2018 6:16 pm
Updated: July 21, 2018 6:33 pm

Pierrefonds swim meet is all about teaching kids safety

WATCH: Hundreds of kids converged on the Briarwood pool in Pierrefonds Saturday to compete and improve their skills in the annual Summer Swimmers Meet. Global's Phil Carpenter caught up with one family whose involvement in the sport became a priority following a family tragedy.

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Violet Bzdyl has two kids taking part in the 12th annual Summer Swimmers Meet at the Briarwood pool in the Montreal borough of Pierrefonds.

“A daughter and son,” says Bzdyl. “Surianna, 8 and Connor Ian, 12.”

Both kids enjoy swimming, but it was a family tragedy that pushed her to get them into swimming in the first place.  Her uncle, Ian, died in Poland in 1976.

“He was a student, 21,” she tells Global News, “and nobody really knows what happened, but they found him in the bottom of the water.”

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She was three when he drowned, and it hit the family hard.  From that point, swimming became a priority in the family, and now, for her kids.

“When they go swimming, when they’re with their friends, they can get themselves to the edge if they have to,” says Bzdyl.

READ MORE: Beaconsfield teen’s drowning death being investigated by Coroner’s Office

Besides getting kids to be active, water safety is a key part of why organizers of the swim meet say kids should learn how to swim.  According to the Canadian Red Cross, drowning is one of the leading cause of death of Canadian kids, ages one to four.

“The main fact that comes up is safety,” explains Daniel Sikorskil, president of the Northshore Aquatic Association which hosts the swim meet.  “Every parent should make sure that their kids are safe.”

Competitions like this help to encourage a culture of swimming.  It’s tailored for kids ages six to 16.  Three-hundred and fifty of them from 17 clubs in the West Island and others parts of Montreal participated.

Some of the kids have been swimming for years, like Connor Ian who began at six months old.  Though he never met his great-uncle, he thinks about him, especially close to the anniversary of his death, which was just six days ago.

READ MORE: Water safety expert shares tips during National Drowning Prevention Week

“I feel really bad, and I wonder what it would be like if I’d see my uncle now,” he says.  “If he was still alive — if he hadn’t drowned — I mean it probably would have been really nice. He probably would have taught me how to swim.”

Another reason Connor Ian won’t forget the lesson of his great-uncle’s death — he’s named after him.

 

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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