JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Teaching children how to be safe around water is not a luxury, it's a necessity, especially here in Florida.
That's the mission this summer of the First Coast YMCA – to encourage everyone to know how to swim.
One year ago, four News4Jax employees who couldn't swim, took lessons through the YMCA’s Safety Around Water program.
They ventured back into the water this week for the first time this season.
Harold Jackson, News4Jax’s director of “The Morning Show,” said he enjoyed his first dip in a pool this year.
"I'm actually really excited," Jackson said. "It's been a while since I've been in the water."
This time last year, the newly-married Jackson told Jennifer Waugh, one of “The Morning Show” anchors, that he wanted to learn to swim, so he could help his wife, or a child, if ever they were in trouble in the water.
But first, he had to overcome his own fear of the water.
"Whenever (the water) touched my nose, whenever it touched my face, I'd just freak out for some reason,” Jackson said.
Jackson and three other News4Jax employees all enrolled in a group swim lesson last summer, with the First Coast YMCA.
The group met every day, for eight days. Each class was an hour long, and the skills they learned through the YMCA's Safety Around Water campaign, their instructor said could save more than their own lives.
"When there's kids, and they're not swimmers, and their own kid takes a spill, their natural reaction as a parent, or even an adult is going to be to rescue a child,” Cindi Partee, YMCA swim instructor said. "Then we're going to have two victims.”
Partee said it's never too late to learn to swim.
"Every adult needs to, even if they're a senior just watching their grandchildren," Partee said. "They need to get in the water and learn how to swim."
The First Coast YMCA is dedicated to providing free swim lessons for disenfranchised children in our area, through it's Safety Around Water program. To do that, they rely on donations.
Thursday evening is one opportunity for a fun way to help the organization's mission.
In the spirit of The Players Championship, enjoy a night out at the YMCA's fourth annual "The After Partee" fundraising event, featuring food, beverages and the band The Yacht Rock Revue.
News4Jax anchor Joy Purdy will emcee the event.
Gates open at 5:30 p.m. at the Unity Plaza at 220 Riverside Avenue in Jacksonville’s Brooklyn neighborhood.
Tickets are available online for $25 for general admission, and $75 for VIP tickets.