In the state of Florida, the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1-14 is drowning. To combat this scary statistic, the YMCA of Central Florida offered 10,000 complimentary swim lessons to children ages 4-12 through its Safety Around Water event.
On April 25, the YMCA kicked off swim lessons at 20 neighborhood YMCA family centers across Orange, Osceola, Brevard, Seminole, Lake and Marion counties. Each registered child will attend a 30-minute swim lesson each day through April 28. Certified swim instructors from the YMCA teach these introductory lessons, which include basic stroke development, personal safety lessons and critical water survival skills.
Rowdy Gaines joined approximately 350-375 kids for the start of their swim lessons at the Lake Nona YMCA on April 25.
Gaines, a three-time Olympic gold medal swimmer and vice president of aquatics for the YMCA, says water safety is crucial. “Each year, the number of Florida children who die from drowning is enough to fill three to four preschool classrooms,” he says. “Among African-American and Hispanic children, the risk of drowning is even higher and for every child who drowns, many more suffer a permanent disability. Yet the tragedy of drowning is largely preventable when children learn basic water safety techniques.”
Registration for the Safety Around Water event has closed, but that doesn’t mean local children need to miss out on this lifesaving instruction. The YMCA of Central Florida encourages families to attend its annual Healthy Kids Day on April 30 to register for ongoing swim lessons and other fun summer activities. The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 25 family centers across Central Florida.