ORANGE COUNTY Fla. — As part of National Water Safety Month, the Florida Department of Health in Orange County kicked off a free swim lesson program Saturday, in partnership with the Rosen Aquatic and Fitness Center.

The department says in the Sunshine State, drowning is the top cause of preventable death in children ages one to four.

What You Need To Know

  • In Florida, drowning is the top cause of preventable death in children ages one to four and is a leading cause of preventable death in children of all ages in the state

  • Most childhood drowning injuries and fatalities occur when children are not expected to be near the water

  • Florida Health Department in Orange County partnered with Rosen Aquatic and Fitness Center to provide free swimming lessons for children

It’s the first of many swimming lessons for two-year-old Savannah and one-year-old Noah. 

Parents Tyra Bryant and Spencer Harrison said it’s about giving them opportunities to have fun safely.

“I believe swimming is a life skill. Just like any other skill you would learn, said Bryant. "Safety is very important, and we just want to make sure our kids are safe, whether they’re with us around the pool or family around the pool."

Registration for the swim lessons opened last week.

Rosen Aquatic and Fitness Center Director Mike Miller said within 72 hours, more than 2,000 families tried to register for the first class.

About 25 of them made it in and the rest were placed on a waitlist.

Miller said that shows how great the need is in the community.

“It is amazing at how many families will come up to me," he said. "Adults and children will say, ‘I don’t know how to swim,’ and they don’t have the resources to get in the water and learn how to swim. And not only Florida — around the nation. There are too many drownings and one is too many.”

The lessons are held for eight weeks and sessions are 30 minutes, each ranging from various activities such as floating and kicking, and importantly for many parents, the lessons are free of charge.

“Overall, yes, swim lessons are expensive, so people who don’t have the means to get their kids in swimming lessons, this is a great opportunity for that,” said Harrison.

A new Florida law is launching a statewide voucher program to cover the cost of swimming lessons for children in low-income families.

The Florida Department of Health in Orange County says they’re still waiting for details on that.

“The Florida Department of Health is now creating Florida administrative code rules determining eligibility for participants, vendors and voucher amounts the implementation date for the program is July 1st and the department of health is working diligently to meet that date,” said Dr. Robert Karch, Florida Department of Health Orange County Health Officer.

The Florida Department of Health says there are several water safety tips to prevent drowning:

  1. Proper adult supervision around water is crucial
  2. Use barriers such as fencing, self latching gates around pools, and to lock all doors that lead to a pool area 
  3. Never leave an infant or toddler in a bathtub alone.
  4. Learn CPR and enroll infants, toddlers, and children in high-quality swim classes.