Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death in children ages 1 to 4, and a new book from a former Chippewa Falls resident is seeking to erase that statistic.
“A Mermaid’s Guide: The Simple, Peaceful Way to Make Your Child Into a Safe, Joyful Swimmer ... Starting in the Bathtub” is a new parenting book written by former competitive swimmer and coach Michelle Lang.
Lang said she wrote the book when she saw that car accidents weren’t the leading cause of death among children, but rather another tragedy.
“The good thing about drowning is it’s almost always preventable,” Lang said. “What we need to do is to get parents to have the skills to be able to infuse their children with early exercises at an early age, starting even in the bathtub.”
“A Mermaid’s Guide” breaks down teaching your child to swim into three easily digestible stages which Lang uses in her one-on-one in-person teaching sessions. The goal of the stages/exercises is to empower the child, as drowning is often the first time in the child’s life they are being presented with a life-or-death scenario.
Lang has been teaching the exercises/techniques in her book for over a decade in Los Angeles primarily, but also travels around the world for sessions including locations such as London, the Hamptons and many more. Along her journey, she has worked with a number of celebrity and high-profile candidates, some of which even endorsed her book, including model and TV personality Kim Kardashian West.
“Everywhere we go people notice what a fantastic swimmer North is,” Kardashian said on the book jacket. “They just can’t believe someone so young can swim so well. While working with Michelle, it was a joy to see North become empowered by the water.”
Another celebrity child Lang has worked with is former American Idol judge Simon Cowell, whose son Eric has benefited from Lang’s teachings.
“Michelle is brilliant,” Cowell said on the book jacket. “Since he was two years old, Eric has been swimming like a dolphin. And thanks to Michelle, he has confidence in the water and will probably win an Olympic gold medal one day.”
While many people may assume these celebrity sessions may be filled with pressure and stress, Lang said working with high profile clients is no different than working with working class people and their children at the end of the day.
“In those situations it might seem like it would be different, but what I actually love about it is when I’m with the child in the water, it’s the same,” Lang said. “It’s all about the parents wanting their child to learn and be empowered by the water. Whether I’m in a large pool with a high profile client, or in a community pool in a local town, learning to swim doesn’t change. The experience doesn’t change.”
When Lang isn’t writing books, teaching children how to swim or traveling the world, she’s tried her hand at acting. Over the course of her decade-long foray into the performance art she’s appeared in films such as “The Legend of Bruce Lee,” “Small Town Crime,” “Waffle Street” and “Strangely in Love.”
Despite being involved in many different fields, Lang said at the end of the day she hopes her work makes a difference in the lives of parents and their children, because there are ways of empowering your child so they know what to do when it counts most.
“We can protect our children, we just need the tools,” Lang said. “I hope this book becomes every parent’s number one parenting book. We read plenty of books on potty training and eating, so when I found the need for a book on how to keep children above the water, I knew I needed to write this. I hope this book teaches children how to handle adversity in a peaceful and powerful way.”
Lang is hosting a book signing/reading at the Volume One Local Store in Eau Claire at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 30.