Olympic Medalist Promotes Water Safety - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Olympic Medalist Promotes Water Safety

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



    Former Olympic gold medalist and swimmer Neil Walker promoted water safety at Lewisville Lake on Friday. (Published Friday, May 18, 2012)

    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.