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 lessons. If they answer “NO,” then the school will be required to give them information about water safety and locations where they can find local learn-to-swim resources. The bill is supported highly because it has no cost to the government and is NOT a mandate for swim lessons. It simply is trying to create awareness for parents of their obligation to teach their children to swim.
The following comments were made by a few of the legislators:
“Swimming is perhaps the only activity or sport that will save a life. So, making sure that children are comfortable in and around water is paramount to their safety. I am very proud to be co-sponsor of this Bill,” said Senator Lori Berman
“We’ve got to do a better job in teaching our children how to swim. It is inexcusable that children are drowning in our state. This might be the most important Bill to come to the floor this year,” said Representative Jim Mooney.
“Drowning is 99 to 100 percent preventable and that is what this Bill gets at. I look forward to getting this across the finish line this year. It is just too darn important,” said Representative Dan Daley.
The Legislature took in some of the following points led by Dr. Bill Kent, Chairman of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
Swimming Safari Swim School supports this bill whole-heartedly. After all, the basis of our existence is teaching children to adults to swim, keeping all safe. In fact, recently, Swimming Safari established The Eric Bass Memorial Swim Lesson Scholarship Fund, to provide swim lessons to underprivileged children.
- A 2020 poll of Florida registered voters confirmed that over 90% believe every child should be taught how to swim
- In the real world, less than half of Americans know how to swim
- There are 1.2 million backyard and public-use pools, plus tens of thousands of natural bodies of water, everywhere in the State of Florida
- Parents can voluntarily answer the question or not answer the question without cause; this bill is NOT a mandate to require swim lessons
- Simply asking the question guarantees that every parent becomes aware of this parental responsibility.
- The long-term impact of this bill will be to create a safer, healthier citizenry since many parents will take action to teach their child to swim
- There are numerous scholarship programs for financial support should the parents be unable to afford but desire to provide swim lessons for their child.
- Once learned, basic swim skills will stay with each individual for the rest of their life
- Research validates that children who learn to swim at an early age actually develop mentally and physically at a measurably better level, even performing better in school.
It is my hope that this legislation will help make every Florida child a swimmer and the schools will follow through and support this huge initiative.
Joani Maskell, Owner Swimming Safari Swim School