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Splash Bash kicks off at YMCA to promote water safety

First Coast YMCA, News4Jax team up to help prevent drownings

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The First Coast YMCA is teaming up with News4Jax for Splash Bash 2019. The goal is to teach children and adults the skills they need to be safe in and around the water.

Last year, DJ Chark, the Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver, learned how to swim. Now he's in the water helping others learn the skill.

"It was a little challenging because I waited so late but it's never too late, and they are always willing to help. If you're afraid, just know you're not alone. There's always somebody willing to help," Chark said. "It's never too late to learn how to swim. I had some teammates since then learn how, and there is nothing wrong with it, and they exercise and it's peaceful, so, go ahead and try it."

Grandmother Regina Dabney was at the YMCA on Saturday hoping her grandson will gain confidence in the water. She said it's the same pool in which her daughter learned how to swim.

"She came right here at the Johnson branch and she learned to swim here at age 7. I just think that it encourages water safety as far as swimming and also just being able to participate in pool activities without the worry of something tragic happening," Dabney said.

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Last year, News4Jax teamed up with the YMCA and more than 3,000 people passed their swimming tests. 

If you or your child does not pass the water test, there are lessons available.

"The biggest thing is, we want them to get that green necklace, so that involves jumping in feet first, treading water for one minute and then swimming one pool length of the pool," said Delray Norris, regional aquatics director, YMCA.

Some children who struggled and didn't earn a green necklace on Saturday at the Splash Bash were offered swimming lessons by the YMCA.

If you missed Splash Bash, there are plenty of other opportunities for you or your child to test water skills. You go to any YMCA with a pool and get tested for water safety skills and get more information about swimming lessons. 

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