(WMC) - Accidental drowning continues to be the number one non-medical cause of death for children ages 1 to 5.
It's the reason the Gatewood and Carico families have a deep friendship, that started at a swimming party over Memorial Day weekend.
"I saw someone pointing, so I went in the general direction. I didn't even see her at first because she was under the water, and then I looked down and saw her," said 14-year-old Ravyn Carico, who is a certified life saver.
Ravyn's little sister Autumn, 9, and her friend Kyra were playing in the pool, when Kyra began to sink.
"I saw bubbles coming out, and me and my friend, we were walking by and we thought she was using it to breathe, and then I saw someone screaming to get her out," Autumn said.
Kyra quietly slipped beneath the surface and sank to the bottom of the pool before anyone noticed: the most common way drowning events happen. Ravyn jumped in, and with the help of her parents, pulled Kyra out of the water lifeless.
"When we pulled her out, there was foam everywhere on her mouth, and I was holding her while my mom came over, and pulled her out," said Autumn. "I was terrified because she was in my grade, and she was a really good friend to me. I was so scared of what was going to happen to her."
Ravyn told herself to stay calm, and she performed CPR while someone else at the party called 911. Kyra's grandmother Eunice Gatewood arrived when the ambulance did.
"Jumped in my car, but I found myself just beating the steering wheel saying God please, please, please save my daughter. Spare her life," she said. "When she got to the hospital they were asking her questions and she couldn't remember anything, and they said well 'who pulled you out?' And she said 'Ravyn.'"
"You always suspect it'll be someone else, it's never gonna be you. You see it in the movies, you see news things like this, and you don't think it's gonna be you," Ravyn said.
Thanks to Ravyn's quick thinking, Kyra is alive today.
"It's a friendship that will be forever, for a lifetime," said Gatewood.
"She saved my life. She saved my life," Kyra said.
Sadly, so many other children aren't so fortunate.
More than 730 children die from drowning each year in the U.S.
Le Bonheur drowning data revealed from 2011 until June 2104 there were 73 drowning incidents, including 15 deaths. The average age range of drowning incidents includes, first, between ages 1 through 4, followed by ages 5 through 9.
For every child who dies, another five end up in emergency rooms. And though media reports and movies make us think drowning is easy to spot, that's not the case.
"It's not like you see on the movies where often times they are throwing their hands in the air so you really need to be diligent," Kroc Center Aquatics Manager Christopher Turner.
Ravyn knew what to look for, but do you know what to look for? If it's hard to spot in a backyard pool, would you notice someone struggling in a crowded public pool.
The WMC Action News 5 Investigators teamed up with the Salvation Army Kroc Center for an eye-opening experiment in the water. The hidden camera experiment is a life-saving demonstration no one near the water should miss.
"The drowning victim most often just slips underwater. So, it's not dramatic, it's silent and deadly," Kroc Center Programming Director Ellis said. "The aquatic center is quite active."
A lap lane, lazy river, hot tub, waterfalls, and two-story water slide: it's easy to see why lifeguards are posted at every turn.
"They are trained to scan. They are all assigned zones, so they're looking at a specific part of the pool at all times," Ellis said.
But during the experiment, the lifeguards agreed to do nothing as an actress pretended to drown in plain sight.
For several minutes the actress, Kristina, struggled to stay above water as parents and kids went about their normal swim routines.
A poolside scan discovered several parents reading books and playing with their phones, oblivious to what was happening a few feet away.
One parent said that if someone was drowning at that moment, she would be surprised. Like many parents, Felisha Ingram wasn't sure what to look for.
"The lady [actress] right there [in the pool]. I sort of thought she was just swimming but then I thought it looked different," Ingram said. "We're all just sitting here pretty much and nobody was paying attention. I guess we were comfortable. It's scary."
It took parent Ronda Martin, who pays for swim lessons for her daughter, even longer to spot the struggling swimmer.
"It was hard because there is so many people, and so much going on," she said. "It's very scary as a parent."
Scary because in most cases the only signs of drowning happen below the water and not above.
"You're gonna be vertical in the water and your head's gonna be bobbing up and down slightly," Turner said. "You lose energy as an active drowner because they're distressed in the water, vertical like that and they sink and they become a passive drowner ... Passive drowning is where you're down, you go under and you're essentially lifeless as you go in."
Passive drowning is best demonstrated with an empty water bottle. Upright and underwater it's filled with air, but the second it's tilted back the air comes out and the bottle fills with water. It's like a swimmer's lungs. They lose buoyancy and any ability to yell.
"Families no longer need to pass along the fear of the water. They can get involved. They can learn, their children can learn, and generation after generation after generation, they will have the opportunity then to enjoy the water that's around them," Ellis said.
The Kroc Center offers a range of educational and personal enrichment opportunities including swimming lessons, water aerobics, special water classes for seniors and water safety training.
Cost: $152 for 4 lessons
Are you wanting swim lessons but just don't have the time for Group Lessons? This is the perfect fit for you, one on one instruction to learn how to swim. The instructor utilizes this great one on one time to help improve whatever you need improvement on. This is a perfect class for more time in the water with the instructor and more flexible as far as time goes.
June 2-August 7, 12-1 p.m. or 4-6 p.m.
August 4-29 Scheduled Only
Contact the Aquatics office at Christopher_Turner@uss.salvationarmy.org for details or to sign up, or just swing by the Aquatics desk.
Adult beginners swimming lessons:
Cost: $64/session - Monday/Saturday 6pm/9am (4 weeks)
Maybe you know how to swim, but just need a little extra help? Adult Swim lessons will help you with form, skill, endurance, and will help you move into our masters swim program.
Click here to learn more about lessons on the Kroc's website.
Fall swimming lessons at the YMCA are also available:
Ages: 6 months- 3 years (*children who are not potty-trained must wear swim diapers)
10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Session 1: September 6-27
Registration: August 23-30
Session 2: October 4-25
Registration: Sept 20-27
Session 3: November 1-22
Registration: October 18-25
Fees: Members $20 | Non-members $45
Preschool : Pike, Eel/Ray
Ages: 3-5 years
Days/Times: Tuesdays and Thursdays
5:00 p.m. (classes are 40 minutes in length)
Session 1: Sept 2-25
Registration: Aug 23-30
Session 2: Sept 30-Oct 23
Registration: Sept 20-27
Session 3: Oct 28-Nov 20
Registration: Oct 18-25
Fees: Members $55 | Non-members $80
Click here to learn more on the YMCA's website.