Working Together to Prevent Children Drowning

OCALA—Drowning is the No. 1 cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1–4. On average, more than 1,000 children die each year in the U.S. due to unintentional drowning and more than 5,000 are seen in emergency rooms for injuries from near-drowning incidents. In an effort to protect Marion County’s children and reduce the number of drownings, the Florida Department of Health in Marion County and Kids Central, Inc. are partnering to provide summer swimming lessons to Marion County children and teens.

Kids Central provided funding for drowning prevention in Marion County. The funding will provide opportunities for children to have swim lessons. This project is a collaborative partnership between the Department of Health, Kids Central, the Safe Kids Coalition, the Marion County Children’s Alliance, and Ocala Recreation and Parks.

“Florida is surrounded by water—lakes, oceans, rivers, springs and thousands of swimming pools,” said Kids Central CEO John Cooper. “Every child needs the right level of supervision around water, and it is crucial that every child learn how to swim. It’s a critical skill of survival.”

Children and teens ages 3–17 who have not previously been taught to swim are eligible to take part in the swim program. Two eight-day sessions are scheduled: July 21–31 and August 4–14. Lessons will take place at the Hampton Aquatic Center, 1510 NW 4th St.

“Florida loses more children under age five to drowning than any other state,” said Meaghan Crowley, Health Education Program manager at the Florida Department of Health in Marion County. “Offering free swim lessons is one way we can help protect Marion County’s children.”

A limited number of free swim lessons are available, so residents should not wait to sign up. Call the Florida Department of Health in Marion County at 352-629-0137 and ask for Megan Reimer at ext. 2084 or Liz Cruce at ext. 2117.

Kids Central is the nonprofit lead agency charged by the Department of Children and Families to prevent and treat child abuse in Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion and Sumter Counties. Kids Central is dedicated to protecting children, supporting families and engaging communities. For more information about Kids Central, please visit

The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts. Follow us on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook. For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit