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11% of Floridians don’t know how to swim; state vouchers would give free lessons

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11% of Floridians don’t know how to swim; state vouchers would give free lessons

Jun 07, 2024 | 12:37 pm ET
By Jackie Llanos
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11% of Floridians don’t know how to swim; state vouchers would give free lessons
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A person looks out as waves kicked up by the Tropical Storm Isaias crash along the Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier on Aug. 2, 2020, in Deerfield Beach. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Floridians know how to swim at a higher rate than the national average, but 11.1% lack the skill, according to a survey from a pool and spa care education company. Soon, a state program would give low-income families vouchers for kids’ swimming lessons.

On a national scale, 16.3% of the 3,000 adults who answered the survey said they didn’t know how to swim, whereas Florida had the third-lowest rate of non-swimmers behind New Jersey and California, according to Poolonomics.com.

As summer begins, Florida’s top officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are raising water safety awareness and the importance of accessible swimming lessons.

Earlier this week, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez held a press conference alerting parents about the soon-to-be-launched resource for low-income families with children under five. The Swimming Lesson Voucher Program will give families with an income lower than 200% of the federal poverty level, which is $31,200 for a family of four, vouchers to pay for swimming lessons for their young children.

The Florida Department of Health plans develop rules for the program by July 1, when the law establishing the vouchers goes into effect. Information about the swimming lessons is available on the website watersmartfl.com.

Meanwhile, a study from the CDC advises that greater access to swimming lessons is key in curbing the rise in unintentional drowning deaths, as more than 4,500 people have drowned each year from 2020-2022.