It’s one of every parent’s worst nightmares. It was July 4, and Sarah and Brent Gregorich, and their son Connor, were spending the day celebrating at the lake with friends.

Everyone was on a large float, but three-year-old Connor was ready to play in the water. Sarah returned to the house to get his flotation device, and Brent helped him to shore.

“Unfortunately, none of the children had flotation devices, and I know that wasn’t a great idea,” Sarah said. “But you never think anything bad is going to happen to your child.”

Connor was in knee-deep water with Brent just a few steps away applying sunscreen. Mere seconds later, when he turned back around, Connor was gone. After frantically scanning the area for him, Brent spotted Connor.

Connor was barely keeping his face above the water near the inflatable float as the lake’s waves crested over his face.

“As I come back out, I hear my husband scream, ‘Somebody get Connor,’ and I didn’t know what I was coming back to,” Sarah said.

As his parents tried to reach him, yelling for someone to help, Connor was able to tread water and breathe out so as to not inhale water until a friend grabbed him from the water.

Thankfully, Connor’s story ended happily, and his parents credit his time at the Y.

Two weeks before, Connor finished swim lessons at the Powdersville YMCA, where he learned the skills he used at the lake on July 4.

“I’m incredibly thankful for swim lessons,” Sarah said. “Those skills he learned in swim lessons are what gave us those moments to realize what was happening to him.”

Connor was enrolled in Swim Basics and learned skills to build confidence and be safe in the water.

“On the first day, he was nervous and would only get in if his teacher was right with him,” Sarah said. “By the end of the two weeks, he was comfortable floating on his back. And I could see he got a comfort with the water.”

His swim lesson instructor, Ashlyn, taught Connor to tread water, float on his back and to hold his breath.

“Ashlyn did a great job. She made him so comfortable, and she was a natural,” Sarah said. “He loved her.”

Sarah believes, as a person of faith, that the timing of the swim lessons featured a touch of Providence.

“I believe in God’s timing. My prayer has always been, ‘Lord, please help me do everything in my power to keep my kids safe, and help me to trust you with the rest,’” Sarah said. “I see swim lessons as me doing my part, but the timing of the swim lessons- that was God.”

Swim lessons changed the odds for Connor on July 4, and his parents want to encourage all parents to enroll their children in swim lessons and give them the best chance for survival in a dangerous situation.

“It was scary to know we were seconds away from a different story,” Sarah said. “Swim lessons are a must, as early as possible. Get your child into swim lessons. They’re available for all ages.”