A mother has blasted staff at an under-fire leisure centre after her young daughter was put in an advanced swimming class for her first lesson.
Marion Thompson said she watched in horror as four-year-old Rheagandisappeared underwater for “what seemed like an eternity”.
The distressed youngster struggled to reach the surface as her mum dashed to the poolside.
The incident happened at the Live Active recreation centre in Blairgowrie on Saturday morning the day another member of staff at the venue accidentally locked in five primary school pupils.
Marion, 29, said: “I cannot believe nobody noticed she was in the wronglesson. She was a good two feet shorter than everyone else.
“As this was her first swimminglesson, she was booked in to a level one class,” she said.
Marion, a full-timestudent, walked her daughter to meet her instructor at the poolside, before taking a place in the viewing area.
“To my surprise, Rheagan wasstanding by the edge in the middlesection of the pool. She did not have arm bands on, nor was she holding a float. There were no swimming instructors in the water nearby.”
She said: “To my horror, all thechildren jumped into the water at the same time, including Rheagan.
“Because she can’t swim, she was fully submerged and unable to surface. At this point, the instructor was preoccupied and did not notice my daughter struggling in the deep water.
“After a few seconds, the other children had swum back to the edge of the pool but Rheagan had still not surfaced.
“I immediately ran through the changing rooms and down to the poolside where I was relieved to see Rheagan had been helped out of the pool.”
Marion, from Blairgowrie, comforted her “clearly distressed” daughter at the edge of the pool, until she felt ready to rejoin the correct class.
“The staff on duty did not seem torealise the seriousness of the incident, nor were they interested in myconcerns,” she said. “They should have checked all the children’s names on their list before letting them anywhere near the water.
“When I spoke to Rheagan later, at home, she said she had told staff she was four. I can only assume the instructor took this to mean she was in level four.”
Marion has taken Rheagan back to the pool to get her used to being in the water.
“I have serious concerns about sending her back to lessons, though,” she said.
A Live Active spokeswoman said: “Live Active Leisure recognises that swimming lessons are an essential life skill and feel strongly that every child in our programme should have apositive experience with us.
“We will therefore contact Mrs Thompson directly to discuss her concerns and do everything we can to ensure herdaughter enjoys future lessons.
“We will, as always, take this opportunity to review our procedures andidentify any potential improvements.”
On Tuesday, The Courier revealed an inquiry is under way at the centre after five children, aged eight to 11, were locked inside after staff left to attend a barbecue party.
Conservative MSP Liz Smith said: “Clearly some parents have been concerned by the organisation and facilities management at the pool so hopefully this can be resolved as quickly as possible.”