Swimming lessons help save local boy’s life

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Once a week, 3-year-old Asher Ansley brushes up on his swimming skills.

His favorite move is the breast stroke or as he calls it "the pizza cutter."

It’s a technique Asher's mom Katherine says saved her son's life.

"We're just so grateful that he had learned what he had in these lessons," she said.

On Thanksgiving Day, Asher was fishing with his grandfather on Lake Norman.

As the family was leaving the dock, Asher fell in.

"You just watched him fall in head first and, of course, your heart races out of your chest," she said.

But Asher didn't panic.

"I fell into the water and I was really brave,” Asher said. “I did the pizza cutter and I swimmed and I swimmed and I swimmed."

Katherine quickly grabbed him out the water which she says was about six feet deep.

“All these thoughts run through your head like, ‘What could have happened?’” Katherine said.

For nearly a year, Asher has been part of the swim program at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Peggy Cromer, supervisor of recreation therapy for WFBMC, says Asher's story shows why she says all children need basic water-safety skills.

"He was able to kind of rescue himself," Cromer said.

Along with the “pizza-cutter,” Asher and others in the program learn how to float and do the back stroke or as they’ve nicknamed it in the program the "soldier, chicken, airplane."

"We use rhymes and kind of rhythms to be able to teach the swim strokes," Cromer said.

The swim program at WFBMC is open to children as young as 6 months old.

Asher started the program when he was 2.