Swim-A-Thon Makes a Splash


We live where others vacation. Florida is full of sun, sand and surf…but with that comes a tragic title. Florida leads the nation in drowning deaths among young children. It’s not a statistic to be proud of and the Tampa Y is working to change that with the help of community leaders and law enforcement.


Last month, the Y partnered with the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office, Office of the Public Defender, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Tampa Police Department and Tampa Fire Rescue to host an inaugural swim-a-thon to raise money and awareness about drowning prevention.


“As a parent, I am just heartbroken for any family that loses a child to a drowning,” says Central City Family YMCA Executive Director Michael Brown. “A lot of people don’t know we are available and that we will provide financial assistance.”


Paying for swim lessons is not an option for many families. The $6,000 raised at the swim-a-thon will help provide swim scholarships to children in need. Katherine Pendzick is a mother of two and one of dozens who swam laps for a good cause. “They’re curious. They’re going to go to water to see what’s going on and the chance of them falling in is high if you’re not around,” says Katherine.


In fact, tragedies can happen in a matter of seconds in even the smallest amount of water. “Even if it’s a dog bowl, a bucket of mop water or a really shallow pool – you never know how children are going to react,” explains Aquatics Experience Director Jennifer Quijada.


Instructors say education is key. The Y offers swim lessons to kids as young as six months old. “These are preventable tragedies,” says State Attorney Andrew Warren. “By raising awareness and raising money for lessons, we’re going to help save some lives.”


Many thanks to the State Attorney’s Office and all the donors and participants. Together, we can ensure not one more local child drowns!

Pictured above: The Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office hosted a swim-a-thon at the Central City Y to raise awareness for drowning prevention.

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