Memorial Day weekend got off to a tragic start on the water, with three near-drownings in Mecklenburg and Catawba counties, and a person found dead in a pool in east Charlotte.

Saturday morning, firefighters rushed a toddler to the hospital after he was pulled from a pool off Huntersville-Concord Road. A 1-year-old was pulled from another pool on Linda Vista Lane Saturday afternoon, and a 4-year-old was rescued after 10 minutes under water in Lake Lookout in Catawba County around the same time.

Then someone discovered a dead body at the bottom of a murky pool at Woodbridge Apartments off Albemarle Road Saturday evening. Charlotte Fire Department Dive Teams confirmed the find, and police drained the pool to remove the person and investigate the death.

The 4-year-old in Catawba County is still in critical condition, according to the Sheriff s Department. A family friend said the 1-year-old from Linda Vista Lane is doing better and could go home from the hospital soon. No information was available about the toddler near Huntersville, but a tweet from Huntersville Fire Department asked for prayers for his family Saturday afternoon.

Never take your eyes off your children, said veteran pool safety manager Jeff Gaeckle, after hearing of the four incidents Sunday. You are the best lifeguard for your children.

Gaeckle is best known as former head coach at SwimMAC, Charlotte s largest swim team, and creator of the UltraSwim meet that attracts Olympians to the uptown aquatic center each year. But his passion is swimming safety, one he gets to exercise as founder and president of Carolina Pool Management-Charlotte, the company that manages 150 pools in Mecklenburg County.

Gaeckle said parents must remain vigilant if there is a pool nearby and their children can t swim because it only takes a minute or two for a child to slip into the water and drown.

Pools are dangerous, said Gaeckle. They're here for our recreation, they're here for our fun -- but you have to respect them.

An adult should be in the water with any child who can t swim, said Gaeckle. Local YMCA s require that children who can t swim 15 feet on their own and float on their back, have an adult swimmer within arm s reach at all times.

Another mistake parents make, said Gaeckle, is believing they don t have to watch their children if a lifeguard is on duty. Most lifeguards are trained to scan the bottom of the pool, enforce pool rules, and respond in case of emergencies. But even in ideal conditions, a guard will scan the pool once every ten seconds meaning your child will be in a guard s direct view only 10% of the time.

It doesn't take long for something to happen from the time they're on one side of the pool to the other side of the pool, said Gaeckle. He advises parents to leave books at home and resist reading smartphones and e-readers while their children are in the water.

Nurse Jeanne Dover knows the drill when she takes her 5-year-old son, Blake, to the pool.

You're always watching them, she said, as Blake swam around her feet. They always have to have their life vest on while they're going near the pool because they think they swim better than they do.

At private homes, a fence around the pool not just the yard, but the pool itself -- is an extra layer of security. Keep doors to the pool area locked with latches high enough that children can t reach them. Install alarms that sound when the doors open.

And start teaching children to swim as soon as they can crawl. Most facilities that offer lessons will start with parent-child lessons before the age of 3, and independent lessons after age 3.

No child is ever drown-proofed, said Gaeckle, but a child who can save himself or delay going under is a step in the right direction.

Learn to swim, watch your children, obey the lifeguards, and you'll have a great summer, he added.

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