Jacksonville group teaches kids to swim

2nd annual Shawn D. Delifus birthday celebration aims to prevent drownings

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Drowning is the No. 1 cause of death for young children and a local group hopes to change that.

With summer break for kids just weeks away,  a local foundation is doing everything it can to help teach children to swim.

The second annual Shawn D Delifus Birthday Celebration was held Saturday at the Jacksonville Legends Center in Northwest Jacksonville.

The event honors Delifus, a former UNF swimming coach who died in 2016.

Joyce Delifus is working to keep her son’s legacy alive.

"It was very important because he wanted children and babies to learn how to swim so they could stop drowning," said Delifus, Shawn D. Delifus Foundation president.

Shawn Delifus was a local swimming legend and now the foundation bearing his name teaches youth how to swim.

"We have prayer before entering the pool for all lessons," said Graylin Brown, a 7-year-old who just went through the program

He said he'll be a lot more comfortable around the water this summer.

"They taught me how to hold my breath, submerge and swim," Graylin said.

His dad said he's also a lot more comfortable.

"It gives me a little piece of mind as well that when he’s around water I don’t have to have that fret or anxiety because he’s more comfortable being around the water," said Will Brown.

And the Delifus Foundation is expanding its reach. Saturday's event at the Legends Center wasn’t just about kids.

The foundation is also working to teach senior citizens to swim, knowing there’s also many in that age group who need to learn as well.

The foundation presented a check for almost $4,000 to the YMCA to go toward swimming programs.

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