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The Jungle Journal

Six Tips to be an Empowered Water-Safe Adult!

As pool season in Jacksonville quickly approaches, now is a great time to refresh on pool safety-for yourself and for your swimmers. One of the most important steps to prepare for safety this pool season begins with you! It is crucial to remember: even with the best setup, the best resources, and having strong swimmers in your home, water emergencies and drowning can happen to anyone. Ignorance is NOT bliss, and knowledge IS power! Furthermore, drowning is the number one leading cause of preventable death in children. Our mission is to partner with you and your family to give you practical skills and resources to empower you and your family for a fun (and safe) pool season. We don’t ever want your children to be a statistic! The first thing a prepared adult does is acknowledge the simple truth: you can never be prepared enough. If you believe “this will never happen to me” you might be less vigilant in overseeing your swimmers. This could make you less likely to act, prepare, or pay attention in or around the pool.

1- “It can always happen to me”<…

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Underwater Photo Session

Sign up for our Underwater Photo Session on Sunday, September 25th 5-7:30pm for a memorable holiday card that is sure to shine!

Each participant is guaranteed a minimum of 3 professional shot and retouch photos.

Participants are encouraged to bring costumes and props to the shoot.

Open to all ages and parents are encouraged to participate.

Act Fast Registration Closes on 9/20!


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Why Swimming should be part of your schedule for going back to school

When we think of going back to school, we think of all the things we need to get ready.

Buy school supplies Buy new clothes Call for Doctor appointments Sign up for the PTA Sign up for fall sports Sign up for Swimming….Sign up for Swimming?

Yes, that is correct. Your calendar should include SWIMMING. Why you ask? Swimming is a summer sport. Oh, no, not anymore! If you want your child to do well in school, Swimming is a must!

A 2012 study out of Griffith University in Australia found that kids who took year-round swimming lessons were approximately 20 months ahead in major milestones, compared with their peers within the same age group and socioeconomic status, who did not take swimming lessons.

Research published in April 2020 has found that Swimming does a bit more than other sports, that kids could participate in such as soccer, football, or even dance. Kids that keep continuing to…

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Child-Centered vs Skill-Based Swim Lessons

At Swimming Safari, we often get asked how we are different from programs that are skill-based. We usually explain that our program is a learn through play approach but what does that mean?

Our mission at Swimming Safari is to provide every student with the skills needed to become Safe, Happy, and Confident, in the water. While we put emphasis on water safety, we put equal emphasis on the happiness of the child. Studies have shown that when children are having fun that they are more engaged and better retain the information being taught. When a person is having a happy or fun experience, it increases their levels of dopamine, endorphins, and oxygen – all things that promote learning! By using different games, singing songs and providing activity based learning, children are learning important swimming and safety skills but enjoying themselves while doing so.

Survival swim courses that use a skill based approach are much more forceful techniques to teach children survival skills in the water. The instructor physically manipulates the child in the same repetitive motions in order to simulate what to do if they fall into water without a parent or guardian present. This…

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Roll to Float- Saving Lives!

Swimmers learn many skills at Swimming Safari Swim School, and all of them are important, though roll to float may be one of the most important skills!

Mastering the skill of going from a swim to rolling onto your back is vital for all swimmers to know. Harnessing the capability to roll onto your back to take a breath when tired can save your life!

A great example of when to use a roll to float is while at the beach. Here in Florida, we are surrounded by water. If a current pulls you out away from the shore, you will be forced to swim for long lengths of time to make it back to the shore. Being able to roll over onto your back and take a breath, or rest, will allow you to save more of your energy and make it back safely.

This goes for infants to adults! It takes longer for an infant to learn to roll, but with positive encouragement, like smiles and hugs, an infant or toddler can soon learn this important life saving skill.We, here at Swimming Safari, want our families involved in this process…

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Florida Reports a Record Rise in Child Drownings in 2021.

Florida reports a record rise in child drownings for 2021.

In 2021, there were 98 deaths, up from 69 in 2020.

Florida hit a record in 2021, but it was not one that was wanted. The death rate for drownings had been going down consistently since 2009, until this year, where the deaths from drownings rose from 69 in 2020 to 98 in 2021. This is the most child drownings since 2009.

According to this report from The Florida Department of Children and Families. Florida “loses more children under the age of 5 to drowning than any other state in the nation.”

“Florida is hard hit says,” Joani Maskell, owner of Swimming Safari Swim School here in Jacksonville, “Because of all the water we have here. If you think about it, Florida is not only surrounded by water, but we have rivers, lakes, retention ponds, and because of our weather, so many families have pools in their backyard or the community they live in have pools.”

The city of Jacksonville is actively seeking solutions to retention ponds accessibility after three young children died in retention ponds in Jacksonville in a three-month span earlier this year. But there are…

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Swimming with REAL pumpkins at Swimming Safari!

Halloween is approaching and Swimming Safari is ready for one of our favorite yearly traditions: swimming with pumpkins in the pool! The kids’ faces light up when they get to swim class and see REAL pumpkins in the pool!

Although this may seem like a silly concept, swimming with pumpkins in the pool has a variety of benefits. Having pumpkins in the pool demonstrates to swimmers that even things that may seem heavy can float!

Our instructors have come up with endless games over the years with the pumpkins! Placing pumpkins on their students’ kickboards and kicking across the pool with a pumpkin buddy, throwing the pumpkins and seeing them float up to the top of the water, and more!

Swimming with the pumpkins in the pool is also a wonderful sensory experience and activity for children of all ages and abilities. It’s even educational! Pumpkins in the pool are a great way to teach and learn about buoyancy!

After their lesson with pumpkins in the pool, our swimmers ask mom and dad when they can come back to swim with the pumpkins again! We wish Halloween and…

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Every Child a Swimmer Law Passed, Now Will it be Enforced?

Florida passing the Bill “Every Child A Swimmer” law, is welcome news for all children, families, and swim lesson providers across the state. Anything that brings awareness to the problem is appreciated! We all want to bring an end to childhood drowning. The bill stresses the importance of children learning to swim. Many studies have shown swim lessons reduce childhood drowning by 88%. Florida, leads the country in unintentional drownings for children ages 0-4 and this year, is on pace to hit a 10-year high in child drownings for 2021. Florida has already recorded 70 child drownings this year, as of Aug. 30, surpassing totals for all of 2020 (69) and 2019 (65), according to Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) data. Of those 70 drownings, 63% involved children aged three and under. The data also reveals that Duval County is the 4th in line of all of Florida counties, followed behind Osceola, Broward & Polk County.

While “Every Child A Swimmer” doesn’t require or mandate swim lessons, it creates awareness among parents of their responsibility to teach their kids how to swim.

In simple language, the parents of each child entering kindergarten will be asked IF they have given their child swim…

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Swimming Safari Announces The Eric Bass Swim Lesson Scholarship Fund

What makes a great instructor? It starts with a great person; someone who is genuine and real, candid and open. A great instructor is one who is kind, honest, and respectful. This was Eric Bass: a young man with a heart of gold and a spirit of gratitude and kindness. Taken too soon at age 33, Eric did amazing things during his time on Earth and his legacy will live on at Swimming Safari Swim School, through our Memorial Scholarship Fund with Hope Floats Foundation to benefit underprivileged children.

Joani Maskell, owner of Swimming Safari Swim School, remembering Eric Bass: “Eric was one of Swimming Safari’s very first instructors. He started when we were still teaching out of backyards when my first instructors were my children and their friends. He met my son in pre-school, and they would remain close friends for life. Eric had an easygoing, warm demeanor. He was so fun to be around and always made us feel like the best versions of ourselves. I watched Eric grow up from a kid with a headful of curly blonde hair doing cannonballs into my pool, to becoming a man I was proud to…

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We are pleased to announce our new partnership with the Hope Floats Foundation

Hope Floats Foundation is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to prevent drownings by providing scholarships for swim lessons. For those in need. Hope Floats mission is to help ALL childrenlearn to swim. They do this by partnering with swim schools that have been successful in teaching swimming in the local community. The equivalent of thirteen school buses full of children die each year in the United States due to drowning. Studies at the National Institute of Health show that swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88%.

“There’s a huge need for swim lessons, and the kids that need them the most – lower socio-economic level kids – they’re not getting them,” said Cindy Tonnesen, founder of the Hope FloatsFoundation. She continued, “We are saving kids, but there are more we need to reach, and we have the ability and resources to do it.”

“Swimming Safari Swim School is excited to pay it forward in our community and we’re excited to support and <…

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