A water safety advocate is working to fund swim lessons for hundreds of local children.
We first introduced you to Joe Byrd Jr. last week, when he offered his support to the parents of a 4-year-old boy who drowned. Byrd is also grieving. His youngest daughter drowned two years ago. His grief is now fueling his work.
“She was adventurous, she was very loving,” said Byrd. “After my daughter Tristan died, I was lost. Didn’t know what to do.”
He and his wife Dana, along with their daughter McKay, laid to rest little Tristan in 2016. The toddler drowned in the family’s backyard pool on Good Friday.
“I couldn’t let Tristan’s two years be for nothing,” said Byrd.
In the 28 months since the worst day of their lives, the Byrds started the Miss Tristan Foundation.
“The goal is for this swimming program to be a standard part of the curriculum in the catholic school system as a start,” said Byrd.
Last year 248 children attending local Catholic schools learned survival swimming and other water safety techniques.
“If they jumped in they learn how to come up, turn over on their back and float and then get themselves to the side and part of the drill was to climb out the side of the pool.”
Hoping to expand the program, the next task is to coordinate transportation between the schools and practice pools.
Byrd also encourages every San Antonian to provide adult supervision of children at all times, teach children survival swimming techniques, use life jackets, install pool fences and alarms and to learn CPR.
“[Drowning is] fast, it’s silent but it’s also preventable,” said Byrd.