Northeast Tarrant

Southlake pool adds lifeguards after 13-year-old girl's drowning death

A 13-year-old swimmer died after she was pulled from the pool at the Carroll Aquatics Center in Southlake.
A 13-year-old swimmer died after she was pulled from the pool at the Carroll Aquatics Center in Southlake.

In the wake of the drowning death last month of a 13-year-old swimmer, Carroll school district officials added lifeguards to the summer staff this week while they continue to review procedures at the Carroll Aquatics Center.

Elise Cerami, a member of the North Texas Nadadores Club, which uses the Carroll Aquatics Center for its practices, died June 20 after she was found unresponsive in the pool during an early morning practice. The Tarrant County medical examiner’s office ruled her death an accidental drowning, however, it’s unclear why Elise, an experienced swimmer, sank into the water after a routine warmup session.

At the July 11 board meeting, Superintendent David Faltys said he and several other administrators had been reviewing procedures with U.S.A. Swimming, the organization that oversees swim clubs around the country, including the North Texas Nadadores.

The facility closed for two days so officials could test water and air quality, among other safety protocols, and found nothing hazardous. Also at the July 11 meeting, trustees approved payment to the center’s employees for those two lost work days.

Faltys told board members that CISD officials opted to hire temporary lifeguards because “that pool is used a lot over the summer.”

He said that administrators would bring the board more recommendations once the review was complete.

In a July 8 letter to Carroll parents, Faltys said only 30 percent of USA Swimming facilities have lifeguards at all times. Certified coaches are trained in life-saving techniques.

On the day Elise died, 23 swimmers were in the pool and two certified coaches were on the pool deck, which is well under the USA Swimming recommended ratio of swimmers to coaches, Faltys wrote. For the rest of the summer, administrators plan to have a lifeguard or a third coach during practices.

He said that Aquatics Center management met with coaches and lifeguards to discuss their roles in pool safety and that the district was looking into “new and emerging technologies” that could make the pool safer.

Use these tips to save yourself from drowning.

Sandra J. Engelland: 817-390-7323, @SandraEngelland

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram