Professional water skier Robert Absher is publicly doting on his son’s ability to follow in his competitive footsteps — the only problem is, little Auburn Absher is only 6-months-old.
Following his choice to publicly share a YouTube video that shows the toddler riding the waves of Falls Lake in Wake Forest, North Carolina, earlier this week, Absher and his wife are now under fire for what many say is a blatant display of child endangerment. In the clip, which was posted on September 4, Auburn is seen being pulled by his dad in ankle-deep water while holding onto a custom-made set of water skis that contains a horizontal pole for him to latch onto. His mother, Heather, is also witnessed coming along for the ride, on foot, as she jogs alongside the young boy as a safety precaution.
The stunt was allegedly performed as a way to get little Auburn into the Guinness Books of World Records; however, according to a spokesperson from the tome, as noted by the Huffington Post, they do not currently “monitor a record category for youngest water skier.”
Speaking with Inside Edition on the public outcry, the elder Absher says that the complaints from fellow parents are completely unjustified.
“We didn’t push this on him at all,” he states. “If he was upset or didn’t actually want to do it, we wouldn’t have even tried it. But, if you watch all of the videos [we posted of Auburn water skiing], you would see he’s having fun.”
Rob also says that the fact that Auburn was able to handle the criticized feat at all is another reason why he decided to share the moment with the world: According to him, his now-healthy son was actually born eight-weeks premature.
“The fact that he’s able to stand up and hold onto things,” he continued, “is incredible in itself.”
With his 30 years of experience as a competitive wake boarder, Rob insists that he took all necessary precautions to ensure Auburn’s safety. For starters, like any sportsman, Auburn went through a heavy amount of training, which saw his endurance tested by being pulled around both inside and outside of the family’s home. Furthermore, the baby is outfitted with a Coast Guard-approved life vest that not just supports his torso, but his neck and head as well (it is also the reason why a helmet is unnecessary).
Lastly, although highly-contested about, little Auburn’s hands are not constricted to the beam at all, so says Rob.
“He’s actually [using] his own grip strength [to hold onto it],” he explained. “And with the bindings, he’s just sticking his feet [inside of] there. He’s not being strapped in, in any way.”
In his defense, there was someone publicly noted for Auburn to best. As mentioned by ABC News back in May, Zyla St. Onge of Florida made history by becoming the youngest person to ever water ski at just 6-months and 27-days-old. Like the Abshers, her family also dealt with an onslaught of controversy for the stunning show, which one claimed to be, “a sick way to exploit [their] baby.”
Zyla, in turn, had bested another child, Parks Bonifay, who held the accolade for several decades by accomplishing the task at just 6-months and 29-days-old.
When it comes to Auburn, who clocked in at 6-months at 10-days-old when he first hit the open sea, Robert feels that the matter was just something inevitable that happened a lot sooner than anyone could have expected.
“It’s just really cool because we wanted to bring the joy of what we do to our son,” he expressed, “but we didn’t plan on doing it this early.”
[Photo via Facebook/Robert Absher]