Olympic Medalist Promotes Water Safety

Former Olympic swimmer says swimming is only sport that can save your life

By Sara Story
|  Friday, May 18, 2012  |  Updated 7:00 PM CDT
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Former Olympic gold medalist and swimmer Neil Walker promoted water safety at Lewisville Lake on Friday.

Sara Story, NBC 5 Denton County Reporter

Former Olympic gold medalist and swimmer Neil Walker promoted water safety at Lewisville Lake on Friday.

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An Olympic gold medalist promoted water safety on Friday at Lewisville Lake.

Neil Walker, a former Olympic swimmer who now lives in North Texas, joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Water Safety Week.

Walker was a medalist in both the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games, and few people know water like he does.

"I did a rough calculation of how far I've swum in my life, and I've gone around the world once and a little bit," he said.

Now, he teaches swimming.

"Swimming is the only sport that can save your life," Walker said.

Walker learned that at a young age, when his older brother nearly drowned.

"We were in the water, just playing teeter-totter on the inner tube," he said. "We got dumped, and he didn't come up. I searched around and grabbed him, and he was seizing."

Walker's brother survived, but many people do not.

"We had over 40 fatalities on the 25 Corps lakes here in Texas [last year]," said Col. R.J. Muraski, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Fort Worth District commander. "Ten were boater-related; the rest were swimming-related."

Muraski urges people to pay attention to tips they may have heard before.

"Swim in designated swim areas only. Never swim alone. When you are out there, wear a properly fitted personal flotation device," he said.

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