Jacksonville city council member proposes bill for free swimming lessons

A city council member is proposing a bill to help children learn how to swim.

According to the YMCA of Florida's First Coast, it only takes 20 seconds for a child to slip under water, less than a minute for that child to go unconscious and less than three minutes before a child can be declared dead.

Jacksonville city council member Garrett Dennis is proposing a bill, that if approved by the Jacksonville city council, would pay for swimming lessons for 6,000 kids, age 3 to 17. He's requesting $200,000 from the city to pay for the lessons.

Dennis said the recent drowning of a 12-year-old and the the current swimming season played huge factors in the timing of the bill.

"If we could get to all those children and teach them to swim before they get out of elementary school we would be saving so many lives," said Dennis.

"We have so many children that are underserved in Duval County and the outlying counties," said Cindi Partee, Regional Aquatics Director for YMCA of Florida's First Coast.

Partee said there is a great need for swimming lessons on the First Coast.

"If we could get to all those children and teach them to swim before they get out of elementary school we would be saving so many lives."

As a father of two, Dennis said his goal is to stomp out the second leading cause of death for 14-year-olds.

"I go home and look at my kids and I want other kids to have the same quality of life that I'm able to afford," he said.

Dennis' bill will be brought up in city council on June 27. If it passes, free lessons could begin as early as July 1.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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