Between 2014 and 2018, six children under 10 years of age drowned in Manatee County, which, according to the Florida Swimming Pool Association, has one of the state's highest rates of child drownings. Each year, according to the group, 78 Florida kids 10 or younger will die from drowning, and the Association, a trade group that represents the pool industry, wants that number to go down.
To do that, the Association and its Florida Swims Foundation are hoping for an appropriation from the State of Florida to fund childhood swim lessons in places where the drowning rate is high, like Manatee County. The group is requesting $200,000 be allocated to expand current childhood swim programs in Manatee, Broward, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Paso and Pinellas counties.
A specific plan for implementing the requested appropriation is not currently in place, but the overall goal is to make childhood swim lessons as accessible as possible for kids before they enter kindergarten. “The solution is right in front of us, but three things we always look at are money, time and transportation,” says Swimming Pool Association government affairs manager Dallas Thiesen.
Swim lessons can make a difference. In 2009, a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that participating in formal swim lessons lowered the risk of fatal drowning by 88 percent in children between ages 1 and 4.
To learn more about the Florida Swimming Pool Association, visit the organization's website.