Thirteen-year-old Elise Cerami was an experienced member of the North Texas Nadadores swim team. She had been swimming competitively for seven years and often spent more than four hours a day in the pool.

Lori Cerami

According to WFAA, Elise was warming up with her team at the Carroll ISD Aquatics Center near Fort Worth, Texas early in the morning on June 20, 2016, when she tragically drowned.

It was a teammate who first noticed that Elise was unresponsive at the bottom of the pool.

According to Elise’s family, a girl on the swim team screamed to get the attention of the swim coaches while a few other swim team members dove in to rescue the girl from the water.

Once Elise was on dry land, swim coach Bill Christensen performed CPR until paramedics arrived.

Sadly, Elise did not survive.

After the incident, Coach Christensen suffered from the symptoms of a heart attack but was later released from the hospital.

Lori Cerami

More than a year later, on June 29, assistant swim coach Tracey Anne Boyd was indicted on charges of abandonment and endangering a child by criminal negligence in connection with Elise’s death.

No additional information on her involvement has been released at this time.

After Boyd was charged, Elise’s mother, Lori Cerami, wrote a statement, published by Cook Childrens:

The charge against Tracey Boyd describes her conduct and we believe that the district attorney will devote the full resources of their office to the case against Boyd. While the court system proceeds with the grand jury’s indictment, our efforts will continue in water safety and drowning prevention. Though the grief and loss are overwhelming, we are doing our best to make a positive change in water safety and our hearts go out to other families who have also lost a child to drowning.

According to CBS DFW, an autopsy report released by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner revealed that Elise’s cause of death was accidental drowning.

It’s unclear what caused the experienced young swimmer to drown, though her family believes her death could have been prevented — especially if there had been trained lifeguards at the pool.

Lori Cerami

In an interview with Dearly, Lori confirmed that there weren’t any lifeguards on duty during the early morning practice at the district pool. She didn’t know the swim team practiced without lifeguards until after the incident:

“There were always lifeguards at the afternoon practices and at swim meets. Along with other parents, we had no idea there were no lifeguards at the early morning practices. After the tragedy, my daughter’s teammates and their parents told us there were no lifeguards.”

Lori told Dearly that her last memories with her daughter were of the frightening trip to the hospital and her final moments in the intensive care unit.

Posted by Swim4Elise Foundation on Friday, October 28, 2016

She said:

“My husband dropped her at the pool that morning. His last memory was their routine hand slap. He knew when she slapped his hand with force, she was ready to take on the day. That day was a great big hand slap.

Sadly, my final memories of Elise are the ER, Care flight, and the ICU.”

Since Elise’s passing, Lori and her family have been advocating for better drowning prevention practices, including adequate supervision of swim teams at all times. In fact, Elise’s brother Bryce still swims in honor of his older sister.

Posted by Swim4Elise Foundation on Friday, October 28, 2016

The family’s website “Swim 4 Elise” includes a swimmer survey that Lori says she wishes she could’ve asked her daughter before she started her season:

“The questions were developed for parents to discuss with their swimmers. The survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete and questions populates as you go along.”

The Star-Telegram reports that Lori has been lobbying the school board to have school coaches trained by the American Red Cross.

Lori told Dearly that the school board had doubled the number of lifeguards last September, but that the swim coaches also need lifeguard training:

“We believe that all USA Swim Coaches should be American Red Cross Lifeguard Certified, as it is a more encompassing water safety tool. At some point, coaches will likely become first responders; the American Red Cross Safety Training for Swim Coaches is not enough. STFC is a first aid class for swimming and the minimum requirement for USA Swim Coaches. This needs to be changed and USA Swimming can make it a requirement for USA Swim Coaches membership to USA Swimming.”

Lori also sent Dearly a copy of the “North Texas Safety Guidelines and Warm Up Procedures,” which states that swim coaches are responsible for “actively supervising” swimmers during swim meets and warm ups.

A parent whose daughter attends a local daycare sent us this message in reference to our safety outreach this…

Posted by Swim4Elise Foundation on Monday, July 31, 2017

Coaches must also “maintain as much contact [with swimmers] AS POSSIBLE.”

Lori told Dearly that she wanted to share her story to protect other families from suffering from the loss of a child:

“The message I want other parents to know, is that drowning is completely silent, hence the importance of water guardians regardless of a swimmer’s ability.”

In an interview with WFAA, Boyd’s defense attorney said that his client is innocent and will prove it in court.

Lori Cerami

According to the Inquisitr, more information is expected to be released when Boyd returns to court on Aug. 1.

The Cerami family, however, will not be in court for the hearing.

The family will be heading to their annual family vacation in a few days. Lori told Dearly this is the second year they will be traveling without Elise.

Elise Cerami

During their first family portrait without Elise last year, they all fought back tears as they remembered the lively girl they loved so much.

Lori Cerami

“We’re tearful every day,” Lori told Dearly. “Our efforts are focused on sharing Elise’s story so we can make her favorite sport safer.”

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