Student saves grandmother from drowning after taking swimming lessons

When Irma Figueroa’s grandson took Safely Educating Aquatic Learners (SEAL) swimming lessons in second grade, she never imagined he would be using the skills he learned through this program to save her life.

Over the summer break, Figueroa had been left to watch her grandson for a few minutes while she rested on a pool float. All of a sudden she lost her balance and fell back into the water, head first.

“I was waving my arms everywhere and my feet were all over the place,” Bonham Elementary Paraprofessional, Irma Figueroa said. “If I would have been able to stand up I would have been okay, but I panicked because I don’t know how to swim. I remember thinking nobody is out here to help me. My son and daughter-in-law had gone inside. You would never think your 8-year-old grandson could do it.”

Her grandson, Gabriel Figueroa had gone through the 2-week SEAL program the previous year where he learned skills like floating, breathing, and jumping safely into the water.

“I was panicking and my grandma was drowning so I picked her up from the straps,” Bonham Elementary third-grader Gabriel Figueroa said. “I didn’t think about it, it just came to me.”

Gabriel went around behind his grandmother and after two attempts managed to pull her out of the water and help her stand up. He then led her to safety at the edge of the pool.

“If it wasn’t for that SEAL program that taught him how to swim, Gabriel would not have been able to get me out,” Figueroa said. “It saved my life. I am so grateful and I hope these swimming lessons continue.”

The SEAL Program was created in March of 2015 and it’s goal is to teach all HCISD second-graders swimming fundamentals and water safety.