USA Swimming Foundation helps South Florida children get free, reduced swim lessons

Mother urges parents to teach kids to swim at early age after son nearly drowns

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – There's a nationwide push for parents to forget about floaties in order to make sure their children know how to swim.

Five children this year have drowned in Broward County and the number is even greater at the national level.
It's something that USA Swimming is trying to prevent from happening.

The team's foundation was in South Florida Monday, where they hosted an event in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to present county and city leaders with grant money to help offer children free or reduced swimming lessons.

On average, 10 people drown across the country each day and a quarter of those deaths are children.

A group of children got a chance to take a lesson at the Aquatic Complex in Fort Lauderdale and they were in for a treat.

Olympic gold swimmer Cullen Jones was on hand as was Olympic hall of famer and gold medalist Rowdy Gaines.

"Swimming is an essential life skill that once you learn how to swim, especially here in South Florida where water is a part of the fabric of who you are as a community, it is a skill that you can carry on for the rest of your life," Gaines said. 

"Drowning is preventable, and by having lessons we are saving lives," Jones said.  

Jenna Edwards knows firsthand the importance of teaching your kids to swim at an early age.

Her son James nearly died in 2014 after falling into the family pool in Coral Springs.

James always wore a floatie and a life vest when in the water, but he never learned how to swim.

"I didn't really process it, that possibly hurting him, because he was getting this false confidence that he could swim when he couldn't, because he just had a flotation device on," Edwards said. 

Edwards has now made it her mission to make sure parents don't make the same mistake.

She's since had two more children and said she has taught them both how to swim. She's also made sure that James got back into the water.

"I had one kid and put him in floaties and I didn't teach him how to swim. Now, I have a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old who are able to self-rescue, who can swim comfortably in the pool, who turn on their backs and float," Edwards said. "This is how old James was when he had his accident and he had none of these skills."

Edwards said James is still recovering and is able to communicate through emotions.

Click here to learn more about the USA Swimming Foundation and to find swim lessons offered near you.