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Free Swim Lessons, for Safety's Sake

County partners bring water-safety instruction to pool near you

Summertime fun can turn to tragedy if unattended young children have access to swimming pools.

Drowning is the leading cause of preventable deaths among Tampa Bay area girls and boys ages 1-5.

Protect children from potential danger by ensuring they don't roam near the water's edge without adult supervision, and by arranging swimming lessons at an early age with a qualified instructor.

The Children's Board of Hillsborough County can help.

This is the fifth summer the Children's Board and its partners, including Hillsborough County government, have offered a free mobile water safety program. Here's how it works: Certified instructors go to pools at community centers, apartment complexes, and elsewhere to give free lessons in basic water safety/swimming skills. Children ages 3-14 are eligible.

The program is designed to accommodate those with special needs.

Up to 24 children may participate in each one-week session. Classes are offered Monday through Friday, with each one lasting 45 minutes. Parents/guardians also receive water safety and CPR instruction.

Statistics show it's worth the effort. With proper instruction, the likelihood of a child drowning drops as much as 88 percent.

The Children's Board contracts with Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA and Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center to run the program.

The YMCA's Chris Alaynick oversees the mobile swim lesson program. The goal, he says, is to eliminate barriers that can prevent parents from getting their kids into water safety or swim classes, challenges such as transportation issues, hectic work schedules, and other deterrents.

High participation numbers show that sending instructors to places where people live is working. Fifty-three sites are scheduled to host classes this summer, which is more than double the number of locations last year.

Call Alaynick at (813) 224-9622, extension 1292, to learn more about the program.

 

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