Donor funds expansion of free swimming lessons program

1,500 students will have the opportunity to learn to swim

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Alvin Brown and attorney Wayne Hogan have teamed up to expand the "Waterproof Jacksonville" program that provides free swimming lessons to Duval County children.

"Seventy percent of African-Americans, 60 percent of Hispanics and 40 percent of whites don't know how to swim," said Brown. "So expanding this program is going to be very, very important."

The program is called Waterproof Jacksonville. It is a needs-based program, meaning only certain children meet the requirements for the free courses. The children must at least be old enough to be in kindergarten and can't be older than 15. They must also be either a McKay scholarship recipient, children of active duty military personnel, or qualify for free or reduced lunch. 

Last year, more than 700 Jacksonville children had the opportunity to learn to swim as part of Waterproof Jacksonville. This year, 1,500 lessons will be offered. This year's lessons involve a partnership with the Duval County School System and donor Wayne Hogan from the Terrell Hogan law firm.

"It's a community tragedy when [a drowning] happens," said Hogan. "Each child that we can reach and each child that we can teach to learn to swim prevents potentially a death and a great tragedy."

For more information, visit the city's website.