HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA and the Florida Blue Foundation are teaming up to offer free swim lessons to children this summer.
The free Safety Around Water Program is a four-day course for children ages 3 to 12, taught by certified instructors who teach children skills to give them confidence in and around water and reduce the risk of drowning. Each class is 40-minutes-long.
ABC Action News looked into the number of drownings deaths in Hillsborough County and found that deaths more than tripled in just one year.
According to DCF, there were 11 deaths in 2018 and 3 in 2017.
Hillsborough County is also aware of the alarming numbers.
A spokesperson for the county sent us a statement by email:
In an effort to reduce the number of childhood drownings, Hillsborough County this year decided to increase the number of Head Start children receiving swimming lessons. On March 6, the Board of County Commissioners voted to spend $50,000 toward that effort. The money means an additional 500 Head Start children will receive swim lessons this year. The plan is to make sure every Head Start child receives swim lessons next year.
Classes will be held at YMCA locations and times vary based on the location.
A YMCA membership is NOT required; however, you have to pre-register due to limited space. Children must be present on the first day of class and bring their own swimsuit and towel.
To register your Preschooler, 3 to 5 years, click here.
To register your School Age child, 6 to 12 years, click here.
The next time free lessons offered in Hillsborough County will be May 28 to May 31 and again on August 5 to August 8 and registration will open approximately a month in advance.
The YMCA of the Suncoast is also offering Safety Around Water lessons at other Tampa Bay Area locations.
- GREATER PALM HARBOR YMCA: May 20-23
- TAMPA METROPOLITAN AREA YMCA (all family locations): May 28-31, Aug. 5-8
- CITRUS MEMORIAL HEALTH FOUNDATION YMCA: June 3-7, Aug 5-9
- HERNANDO COUNTY YMCA: JULY 29-AUG 2
- JAMES P. GILLS FAMILY YMCA: JUNE 3-6, JULY 1-5, AUG 19-22
- CLEARWATER YMCA: EVERY FRIDAY IN MAY, JUNE 24-27
- MANATEE YMCA: One free 4-week session per participant in June, July or August
- SARASOTA YMCA: is also participating, contact your nearby Y for details