• Teaching children how to survive the water

    By: Beth Rousseau , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Every year, the number of children who drown in Florida could fill 4 pre-school classrooms.

    Action News Jax’s Beth Rousseau went into the water to get a firsthand look at the local effort to teach kids to swim, before they can even walk.


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    Jacksonville mom Jessica Hayes said she knows not every child gets the same lesson.

    The mother explained, “I read things and I just cry. I get goosebumps right now, because it breaks me heart.”

    At the beginning of May, Jackson Taggart’s family opened up to Action News Jax about they 2-year-old’s drowning in a lake near his home.

    Taggart is one of at least 4 drownings since the start of 2019.

    Amy Pritchett, a senior master instructor with Infant Swimming Resource, said Florida’s pools and beaches make it ground zero for drowning deaths among children 1-4.

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    Seventy-four Florida children drowned in 2016, according to the Department of  Children and Families.

    Pritchett’s job is to give kids swim survival skills, starting at just 6 months old.

    She described, “Our goal in ISR is to get your child safe and to produce a child that could self-rescue if the situation presented itself.”

    The instructor said ISR uses the swim-float-swim method so if a child can’t swim they’ll flip over and float until help arrives.

    “All we’re doing is taking this environment and teaching them how to respond to it,” Pritchett explained.

    Even Pritchett’s youngest students swam and floated their way to safety.

    Hayes said, “For that moment you do have that moment .. then you’re like ‘Oh, he floated.’”

    According to Hayes the 10 minute lessons, 5 days a week are tough on parents.

    She said, “It would be the worst thing ever if anything would ever happen to my babies.”

    Parents told Action News Jax, the work is worth is, bringing peace of mind for local families.

    Florida’s Department of Children and Families aid that 88 kids died from drowning in 2018.

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