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Mum turns swim teacher after toddler’s river plunge

Susanna Murdoch and daughter Bella, 2.
Susanna Murdoch and daughter Bella, 2.

A mum whose two year old daughter fell in a river on a camping holiday is to train as a baby swimming instructor.

Susanna Murdoch, 30, was just feet away when toddler Bella stumbled while paddling in the River Almond near Aberfeldy, in Perthshire.

Instead of panicking, Bella, who had been given swimming pool lessons from five months, instinctively started to swim on her own.

Mum of two Susanna, from Crieff, got to her daughter within seconds but she is now determined to teach other babies the potentially life-saving skills.

Speaking ahead of National Baby Swimming Week, which starts on Monday, she said: “Water is part of our lives, especially where we live, which has rivers everywhere, so it made sense to get Bella enrolled for swimming classes when she was very young.

“We go camping every year in the Sma’ Glen with other families, and there is an area by the river where we do dishes.

“I looked up and could see Bella paddling and having a splash and enjoying herself.

“I turned my head away for a second and looked over again and she’d fallen. She’d paddled a bit too far and lost her footing and then she just instinctively started swimming.

“I went in to the water and scooped her up but she was so calm. The water wasn’t up to my knees but it was deep enough for a small child and it was cold.

“She instantly knew what to do. She just swam onto her back without panic until I got to her.

“The whole thing was over in seconds but it could have been many times worse. Thankfully she knew exactly what to do in the few seconds before I scooped her out of the water.”

Bella remained composed until she was safely on the shore and later happily went back out on to the water with her mum in a kayak.

Susanna, who also has a son, Rhys, 10, has since been inspired to apply for a job with Water Babies, the company that taught Bella to swim.

She will begin training in November and hopes to start teaching in Central Scotland next year.

She said: “We have been with Water Babies for almost two years now and I love everything about it.

“Swimming is such an important skill to have but not every child would be prepared for an incident.

“I would love to be able to help someone else experience the Water Babies journey by teaching and providing such amazing life skills for children.”

A spokesperson for Water Babies Scotland Central said Bella’s story showed the importance of water safety, adding: “We pride ourselves on being able to teach life saving skills to babies and toddlers from a really early age. It makes them super confident and super safe about being in and around water.

“We teach them how to cope in an emergency and, even, at her young age she has remembered what she has done in class and saved her own life.

“The sad fact is too many young children are not learning basic swimming skills and water safety, often with tragic circumstances.

“What we do at Water Babies is truly inspirational, so much so that Susanna herself has decided to go on to become one of our instructors.”

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