Any time we open a newspaper or click on a news-driven website, we can be confronted by blaring headlines about someone drowning. It might be an elderly tourist unable to escape a rip current. It might be an infant drowning in a bathtub after being left unattended for a few moments. Or it might be a teenager who slips unnoticed to the bottom of a crowded swimming pool. No one knows for sure how many Americans can’t swim, but guesses range from one-third to one-half of all Americans do not possess the ability. The percentages can run even higher among minority groups. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that up to 10 people can drown on any given day. It seems obvious that a lot of lives could be saved if we could teach everyone to swim. So sign you or your child up for a lesson today to stay safe and have fun.
South Tampa YMCA
4411 S. Himes Ave.
Tampa, FL 33611
Swimming programs are a traditional part of just about any YMCA, and the South Tampa “Y” located just south of the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway is no exception. According to its website, children under the age of five drown at twice the national average in Florida. The South Tampa “Y” offers water survival classes to infants as young as six months with instructors certified in the ISR system and has swimming classes for pre-school and school-age children as well as adults. Some programs are available at no charge to members with a $105 charge for non-members.
Tampa Bay Turners
2301 26th St. N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33713
Swimming is just one of the athletic programs offered by Tampa Bay Turners. TBT promises to coach each child with programs tailored to their individual needs. The TBT program is designed to build self-confidence as well as physical fitness. Located just off Interstate 375, TBT offers open swim from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with a $5 fee for adults. Tampa Bay Turners is affiliated with the United States Swim School association and is Pinellas County’s Junior Olympic training center. All ages from six months to adults are welcome.
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JoAnn’s Swim School
409 Manor Blvd.
Palm Harbor, FL 34683
Jo Ann Sawyer describes herself as a “water person” who would rather be in (or under) water than dry land. After years of teaching swimming, snorkeling and SCUBA diving in Massachusetts, Jo Ann set up shop in Palm Harbor in northern Pinellas County. With a background as a U.S. Swim coach, Jo Ann encourages everyone to take up swimming to help build physical fitness. While no one can be truly “drown proofed,” Jo Ann notes that children as young as six months can be taught basic water survival skills. Jo Ann also stresses that swimming can be great therapy for children and adults suffering from physical or learning disabilities. Her rates start at $35 for half-hour private lessons and at-home group lessons are available starting at $85 per student.
Aqua Mobile Swim School
Founder Diana Goodwin brought her idea for convenient, at-home swimming instruction from Canada to Florida. While the process of setting up lessons is easy, Aqua Mobile promises that instruction will be high-quality with all instructors having a minimum of three years experience and Red Cross lifesaving and CPR training as well as thorough background checks. Aqua Mobile claims that private, small group instruction can bring better results than other swim schools, with none of the stress of rounding up kids and driving them to the pool. The approach is also well-suited for adults anywhere in the Tampa Bay area looking for a convenient way to learn to swim.
Brandon Blue Wave
405 Beverly Blvd.
Brandon, FL 33511
Obviously there are plenty of places, including your own swimming pool, to learn to swim. However, when it comes to the development of world-class swimmers, the Blue Wave club of Brandon may be in a class by itself. The club has produced a number of Olympic-caliber swimmers, including multiple gold medalist Brooke Bennett. Located at the Brandon Sports and Athletic Club about four miles off Brandon Boulevard, Blue Wave has become a destination for talented young swimmers willing to pay the price to become champions.
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Mike Hennessy is a veteran news man who has won Florida AP awards for feature reporting and covered almost every kind of story imaginable from on-the-scene coverage of Hurricane Andrew, to some of the highest profile murder and corruption trials in Florida history. Mike is versatile and has the curiosity it takes to get to the bottom line of any story. His work can be found at Examiner.com.