JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - School may be starting, but with this summer heat still going strong, children will find a way to still have fun in a pool or at the beach.
Add to that the St. Johns River, retention ponds and other waterways sprinkled throughout the Jacksonville area, and you can understand why we continue to encourage you to have your child's swim safety skills tested -- for free -- at any First Coast YMCA.
News4Jax teamed up with local Ys for the Safety Around Water campaign, which aims to have 5,000 children pass the Y safe swim test.
However, as of Monday, 5,336 children's water safety skills had been tested at area Ys, but only 2,519 passed the test -- less than half.
That's why I was out at the Williams Family YMCA off San Jose Boulevard in Mandarin on Monday, helping spread the word about the importance of knowing your child's level of safety around water.
I was joined by Eric Mann, CEO and president of First Coast YMCA, and Mark Brunell, News4Jax sports reporter, analyst and insider and former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback.
Both shared their experiences about water emergencies -- events that happened years ago in their lives but had a huge impact on them and their abilities to be safe around water.
I also met a local mother who not only brought her two children to have their swim skills tested, she also brought children belonging to two other relatives, stressing the importance to her family of determining where in a pool each child would be allowed to play -- the shallow end versus the deep end.
The swim skills test, which takes just three minutes, includes swimming the length of a pool, treading water and jumping into the pool. The results of the test will let kids and caregivers know a child's swim skill level.
If a child passes the swim safety test, they get to ring a special cow bell at the Y and upload a photo to the Y's website for a chance to win a free six-month YMCA membership. If a child doesn't pass the test, he or she could be eligible for free swim lessons at the Y.
The Johnson Family YMCA on Jacksonville's Northside is closed due to renovations. Click here for a list of First Coast YMCAs where your child can take the free swim test.
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