A WOMAN and three young children almost drowned in a city swimming pool while two lifeguards were allegedly too busy chatting to notice.
Mabel Freytag says she spent at least 60 seconds convinced she and the children would die before a fellow swimmer came to their rescue at Bletchley Leisure Centre.
Now leisure centre managers Hertsmere are holding a full investigation into the incident and are already interviewing the lifeguards.
Mabel’s horror happened on Saturday afternoon when she visited the pool with her eight-year-old son Jamal, her niece Nina, aged seven, and her son’s friend.
Mabel, at the children’s insistence, was towing the trio on a float in the deep end when Jamal, a capable swimmer, slipped off.
This caused the other two youngsters to fall off, pushing Mabel underwater.
“I’m a strong swimmer and my niece is too. But suddenly I was underwater with all three children panicking and grabbing hold of me.
“They were clutching at my neck, my arms... I was splashing about, desperately trying lift them but I couldn’t move.
Mabel managed to get her head above water to raise her arm and shout for help.
A member of the public swam over to grab one of the children, allowing Mabel and the remaining two to untangle themselves and swim to the side.
“We sat on the side to recover, clearly shaken and upset Then I saw two lifeguards, a male and a female, chatting to each other just metres away. It was obvious they hadn’t seen or heard anything – despite all the splashing.”
Mabel is now calling for Hertsmere to make it policy that lifeguards should stand at separate areas of the pool and be forbidden to chat.
Leisure centre manager Susan Clark admitted there were no “special conditions” about where lifeguards stand but refused to say whether guidelines would now be introduced.
“It is too early to say what happened. We have a procedure to follow.”