Fewer kids are drowning in Hillsborough County. It could be thanks to a big push to get more kids access to swim lessons.
The Wagner kids are now gliding across the water and even diving for rings with ease. But just last year, nine-year-old Alli wasn't too sure about the pool.
“I did feel a little afraid at first because I never swam before," said Alli Wagner.
“As they started getting older, I was very concerned with them being in Florida around all the water," Alli's mom, Laura Wagner, said.
That's why she got all her kids into swim classes at the YMCA. In just a few lessons, fear turned to sheer joy in the water.
"It makes me happy," said Alli Wagner.
"71 percent of the world is water and kids are 100 percent curious," said Lauren Brun, Tampa YMCA aquatics experience coordinator.
It's one reason the YMCA is ramping up efforts to get more kids swimming safely. Last year, thanks to a county sponsored program with Head Start, and several other community efforts, Hillsborough County's drowning rate was cut in half!, from eight down to four. But the big goal, is for no child to die by drowning.
"We want make sure we’re impacting our community in the most positive way that we can and making sure our families are safe around water is huge," said Brun.
During spring break next week, Tampa YMCA branches are offering free swim lessons to kids ages 3 to 12.
There are still open spots if you sign up now here.
Laura Wagner says it's something every family should consider to make being around water worry free.
“We have such a wonderful time and we’re all looking out after each other and yet also know that we’re in a safe place now," said Laura Wagner.
Meanwhile, Hillsborough County has adopted its swimmer safety pilot program on a permanent basis, partnering with Head Start and local schools to get kids swim lessons. After spring break, families needing swim lessons can also sign up through the YMCA and some families qualify for a reduced, or free, rate.
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