Knowing the passengers aboard his plane could swim gave him confidence he could make a water landing in Lynn Canal in November, pilot Mike Mackowiak told a group of youths Saturday.

Without swimming skills, the crash outcome could have been tragic, Mackowiak said at “Splash-O-Rama,” a special event at the Haines pool that included a ceremony honoring residents who have used swimming skills to save lives.

Mackowiak, two family members and a family friend survived the crash after swimming to shore. Resident Jesse McGraw, who helped keep fellow deckhands afloat following the sinking of a fishing boat in the Gulf of Alaska in November 1999, also was honored.

Mayor Jan Hill said the Mackowiaks and McGraw deserved to be honored “not only for courage in the face of peril but for demonstrating that swimming saves lives even in the frigid waters of Southeast Alaska.”

The Mackowiaks and McGraw received flowers, a pool pass and a pack of Life Savers candy.

About 50 residents turned out for the pool event, that included a free swim and free lessons and a “fun swim meet” for adults and youths. It was sponsored by Haines Borough, Haines Dolphins Swim Team and Friends of the Pool.