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Overcrowding is blamed for boy's near-drowning

Published Oct. 9, 2005

(ran S, T editions of B)

A 6-year-old boy nearly drowned as he and 25 others took swimming lessons at a country club Thursday, and an administrator at the boy's summer camp said she believes the pool did not have enough instructors on hand.

Scott Leslie Landry Jr. of Seminole was taken by helicopter to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg after the accident Thursday morning and was in fair condition late Thursday afternoon.

Landry was revived by Seminole Swim School director Steve Graves after he was found underwater in the deep end of the Seminole Lake Racquet Club pool just after 9:30 a.m., according to sheriff's and Seminole Fire and Rescue Department reports.

Graves defended his staffing levels.

"I feel that the ratio was good," he said Thursday.

Landry apparently made his way into 4-foot-deep water unnoticed and was underwater briefly before instructors pulled him out, reports said.

He may have been pushed into the deeper water by another student, Graves said. Landry is a novice swimmer who was taking his third class of the summer.

Landry, who was not breathing and had turned blue, was revived after about 30 seconds of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, said Susan Baraybar, administrator of the private Wellington School. Landry was enrolled in Wellington's summer camp and was taking swimming lessons to hone his skills, Baraybar said.

Wellington offers the lessons at the Seminole Swim School as part of its summer camp.

Three Seminole Swim School instructors and another school worker were on hand when the accident happened.

Baraybar said she was promised a student-to-teacher ratio of 3-to-1 when she arranged for her campers to take lessons at the pool. She said she believes the swim school overbooked and had far too many students Thursday.

"It was just like a madhouse," Baraybar said. "We don't feel the accident should have occurred."

Only about 10 of the students present were from Wellington, Baraybar said, adding that they should have been the only ones scheduled for lessons during the 9:30-10:30 a.m. period when the accident occurred.

She canceled Wellington's contract with the swim school after the accident and is making arrangements for parents to get refunds.

Graves said he is confident his school's students are well-protected but will re-evaluate the matter anyway because of the accident.