In 2018, Hillsborough County saw a spike in drownings and had more than any other county with 11 deaths. According to the Department of Children and Families, there was a 7% increase in youth drownings across the state, for a total of 88 deaths.
In an effort to save lives and meet the need for water safety education, the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County has increased funding for Mobile Swim initiatives. They have partnered with various organizations to expand outreach and provide free lessons in communities.
BSAC, a 501(c)3 Non-Profit organization, has joined up with the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County and others to further its mission of youth drowning prevention. Our team has received great feedback from both parents and community leaders, who look forward to participating in Mobile Swim again in the future.
“Youth drowning prevention is one of our main pillars,” said Chuck Burgess, BSAC CEO. “It’s at the heart of what we do in our community. No child should ever drown. Ever!”
Children learn basic skills such as putting their face underwater, blowing bubbles, floating, kicking, and scooping with their arms. Older children may learn more advanced skills such as improving freestyle or breathing technique. In addition, BSAC instructors teach vital water safety skills and show children how to put on a life jacket and jump in the water. Parents are also shown how to perform CPR and use an AED machine.
“This is a great program, and hopefully BSAC gets the grant next year to offer it again,” said Janet Neely, who directs the mobile swim initiative for BSAC. “In just the five days of a session, children are getting themselves to the wall, which is so important. We are teaching them to float or get to the edge in case of an emergency.”
Last year in 2018, the BSAC Mobile Swim program visited 11 communities and impacted over 200 children. In just one year, that impact more than doubled as we far surpassed our 2019 enrollment goal, teaching 547 children across 21 sites. BSAC plans to see an increase in Mobile Swim enrollment again next year.
Mobile Swim especially impacts families who do not have the means or accessibility to swimming lessons. Because classes are held for residents at their community pools, participation requires no travel or expense to the families.
Many parents, however, choose to continue lessons at our main campus after seeing how quickly their children have progressed from just one session. BSAC’s progressive learn to swim program also prepares children for future admission to the Blue Wave Swim Team.
To learn more about our swimming programs, visit: https://www.mybsac.org/swim/
Written by: Carli Walko – BSAC Director of Marketing