The Story of the Alleged Near Drowning at Kinsmen Sportsplex

Nick Murray

On Saturday February 17th, Stacey Houghton brought her five young children to Moose Jaw's Kinsmen Sportsplex for an afternoon swim. Her children are 2,4,6,8 and 10 years old. She was accompanied by a friend and her two children.

She alleges that her son, who was 8 years old, nearly drowned while swimming laps. At the Sportsplex, if a child wants to play in the deep end and jump off the diving boards, they have to show a lifeguard on duty that they are strong enough at swimming. In order to do this, the child has to swim two laps of the pool, without help or without grabbing onto the floating lane dividers.

Houghton wasn't with her son when the incident occurred. She was in the wading pool, swimming with her three youngest kids, while the two oldest were both hanging around a group of kids at birthday party, near the deep end, she claims.

"There wasn't a lot of people there when my son decided to do laps" she said, adding, "my son felt confident enough, though he has not spent a lot of time in the deep end."

He was doing laps with two other boys from the birthday party. She alleges that the three boys checked in with the lifeguard while her oldest daughter, the ten year old, watched on from the side of the pool.

Two large youth, she figures they were both 14 or older, drifted into the lap lane area on floating foam mats. Her son found himself underneath one. He claims he had no idea what the object was, he just knew that it prevented him from coming up for air. 

"He went into panic mode; he was waving his arm around and he yelled out "Help! I'm drowning!"" But, she claims the lifeguard supervising the lanes did nothing.

"How did they not hear him?" she asked.

She claims that another boy saw him thrashing and swam out to help. But it should be noted that she, herself didn't witness this. The story was told to her, by her son, more than twenty minutes after the incident. She claims that she was at the canteen, getting food for her children, while they played in the water, when her son came up and told her. Until that point she had had no idea anything occurred.

The City's Parks and Rec Department did a thorough investigation and concluded that though they "do not dispute there may have been a concerning incident, there is no conclusive evidence to support the claim that a child was in danger of drowning," and that "no medical assistance was required, nor requested, for the child in question."

Houghton has also been vocal that the lifeguard on duty should be removed from his position. "I don't feel this kid should even be working as a lifeguard" she said.

Houghton claims she went to the head lifeguard, then to the front desk, then the supervisor, then the Parks & Rec Department and then to Human Resources all before taking it up in front of Council at Monday's meeting. Neither of these persons offered her the response she was looking for.

She also went back to the pool on Tuesday and took pictures of other items she was concerned were safety violations. These items she brought up at Council.

The Parks and Rec Department concluded that the "Sportsplex swimming pool equipment (including waterslide platform railings) was inspected and found to be in compliance with government safety standards."

Read the city's full press release