On April 16, O’Neill’s Pools, 2300 Lohmans Spur, Ste. 120, Lakeway, presented water safety nonprofit Colin’s Hope with $1,000 as it embarks in a new partnership with the group.
Servicing swimming pools in the Austin area, O’Neill’s Pools owners Amy and Neil Engelmann said they realized they had the perfect opportunity to help with drowning prevention.
“We have 13 [swimming pool service] technicians and 400 pools,” Amy Engelmann said. “It’s a natural fit to work with Colin’s Hope.”
Since meeting with Colin’s Hope in March, the business changed supplies in its store and is planning a staff training program. Engelmann said their store removed unsafe flotation devices and plans to stock more life jacket sizes based on suggestions from Colin’s Hope Executive Director Alissa Magrum.
“We have a very unique position to be of influence,” Engelmann said. “Service doesn’t stop at pool repairs.”
Jeff Holst, Colin’s Hope founder, started the nonprofit in 2008, shortly after his son, Colin, died at the age of 4 in a drowning accident.
Colin had taken swim lessons and was in a public pool with lifeguards on-duty and friends and family present when he drowned.
“Drowning is the No. 1 cause of unintentional death for children under 5 [years old],” Holst said, citing a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. “Why aren’t we talking about this? We talk about seat belts and everything else but not drowning. I wanted to change that.”
Colin’s Hope provides swimming and water safety instruction for low-income families. Its website offers a water safety quiz, with participants listed on the group’s Water Guardian Wall upon completion.
“We are small, but we cover a lot of ground,” Magrum said. “Drowning is fast and it is silent. No one is drown-proof.”
Magrum encourages “layers of protection” for water safety, such as pool fences, appointed water guardians and life jackets. She said she believes partnering with O’Neill’s Pools will allow for personalized advice.
“If someone from O’Neill’s is there and sees toys left in the pool they can advise the home owners that that’s a risk for children who want to jump in and get a toy,” she said.
According to the Watch Kids Around Water organization, more than half of child fatal drownings in Texas in 2015 were home-related—occurring in backyard pools, hot tubs and bath tubs, Magrum said.
“We are so excited the community has supported us so that we can support Colin’s Hope,” Englemann said. “If we can stop even one drowning, it’s worth it.”
Holst said as the organization moves forward, its staff keeps Colin’s saying in mind.
“He used to call almost every day the ‘best day ever,’” Holst said. “So that’s what we try to do. Keep families safe, and make every day the best day ever.”
2300 Lohmans Spur, Ste. 120, Lakeway
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-3 p.m.