A few kids in South Miami, a city with no public pool, are getting the opportunity to take free swim lessons at Ransom Everglades School in Coconut Grove.
Tina Scott, a pediatrician in South Miami, arranged the partnership between the city and private school to address the lack of swimming skills she regularly saw in her patients.
“One of the things that I do when I see patients is to ask about water: Do you live near water? Do you have a pool in your backyard? A canal? To make sure that the kids actually know how to swim,” she says.
Too often, she says kids lacked basic swim skills and it shows in the drowning statistics in Florida. The state has the highest rate of drowning in the country for kids ages 1 to 14.
Few of the parents of Scott's patients were in a position to pay for private lessons, so she approached Ransom Everglades, where her daughter goes to school, to see if the school would be willing to offer lessons to the kids for free.
The school had previously extended similar opportunities to kids in Overtown and Liberty City and were happy to include South Miami in the mix.
Eight-year-old Gary Kendrick is one of the kids bused once a week to Ransom Everglades. Before the program, he didn’t know how to swim and didn’t have access to a nearby pool.
In a matter of weeks he was swimming on his own.
“When I had swim to one of the counselors I was really swimming," he says. "I ain’t even know I was moving."
Gary and his swim mates now play Marco Polo in the water.