Monday, February 11, 2019




Safe Swim remembers Oscar Gonzalez

Edie Falco instructs young people Saturday about the do’s and don’ts of swimming at her
Wings Over Water swim school in Southeast.

BREWSTER – Last fall’s tragic drowning of Oscar Gonzalez, whose 15th birthday was days away, deeply upset the greater Brewster community. Oscar was well liked both in and out of the classroom.

Oscar lost his life on Labor Day when falling off a raft in Lake Tonetta in Southeast. He never learned how to swim.

The Brewster Lions, like many other local organizations, were saddened by the tragedy and working with the Brewster School District and Wings Over Water swimming school in Southeast, sent a survey to middle and high school students inquiring if they knew how to swim.

Hundreds of responses received indicated many of the young adults were unable to swim. Jack Duncan, president of the Lions Club and his wife, Debbie, a teacher’s assistant at the Henry Wells Middle School, worked with Edie Flood and her daughter Cherese Alden, proprietors of the swimming school, and organized the Oscar Gonzalez Safe Swim where youngsters could learn how to swim and avert future tragedies.

On Saturday, a group of teens met with the instructors.

Flood explained the four principles of swimming: Breathing, buoyancy, balance and posture and told the students, “Work through your fear. You are never too old to learn how to swim. Just the other day we instructed a 98-year-old man who desired to learn.”

Flood called swimming a “safe and enjoyable experience once you become accustomed and adjusted in the water.”

Alden told the parents attending with their children that flotation devices worn by many younger swimmers were a menace. “Children think they can swim but they can’t which often leads to tragedy if the devices fall off or if a child jumps into a pool without the flotation equipment.”

Jack Duncan recalled following Oscar’s death how heartbroken members of the community were. “Oscar was well liked, a wonderful student, a caring boy who I know would have become someone very special.”

His wife described Oscar as a “great kid. He had such potential. Oscar was a gentleman at the age of 14. I will never forget him.”

Those interested in donating funds allowing for future Oscar Gonzalez Safe Swims may contact Duncan at 845-612-4551.


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