More than half of children tested can't pass swim test

Data from 6 weeks of YMCA, News4Jax partnership prove need for lessons

By Joy Purdy - 5:30, 6:30 & 11 p.m. anchor, Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - More than half of more than 4,300 children who have taken a free swim skills test at a Jacksonville-area YMCA since May 15 have not passed.

All summer, News4Jax is working with local YMCAs to help you make sure your kids are safe around water. Our goal is to see at least 5,000 children pass the swim test and help get more kids learn to swim.

The test, a partnership with the Y and News4Jax, includes swimming 25 yards in a pool, treading water for one minute and jumping into deep water, is free. And the results prove the need. Only about 1,900 kids -- 44 percent of the children who jumped in the water -- have passed.

Already this year, News4Jax has reported on five child drownings in the area. Seven children drowned during the same time frame in 2017.

Our partnership on the Safety Around Water campaign grew out of those statistics.

"If you're a parent of a child, you need to be aware of your child's skills," said Katie Huff, YMCA's regional aquatics director. 

The Y's flagship location in Riverside has seen the most kids fail the swim safety test. Of the 550 tested, only 80 youngsters passed. 

Another problem area surrounds the duPont family YMCA in the San Jose area. Of the 295 children tested, just 85 passed.

At the McArthur Y in Fernandina Beach, just 56 young swimmers passed the test -- about half of the 103 kids tested.

We encourage all parents and caregivers to  have their children tested for free to make sure they would be safe in a water emergency. If they fail the test, they could qualify for free swim lessons at a YMCA. The free lessons are made possible by donations. If you'd like to help a child learn to swim, it costs, just $60.

Contact the nearest YMCA for information about getting your child tested or making a donation.

Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.