By Samantha Joseph
MARTIN COUNTY - A swim program launched as part of a record-setting effort met with enthusiasm from area residents.
Sailfish Splash Waterpark joined pools, water parks and aquatic facilities on June 14 in a global effort to simultaneously host what they called the world's largest swimming lesson.
The move was the local park's first marketing step in introducing its own swimming programs and drawing awareness to drowning prevention among children.
"We want to make sure that as many kids who want swim lessons can get them," said Craig Anderson, marketing coordinator for Martin County's parks and recreation department.
Sailfish Splash Waterpark's staffers began offering scheduled classes June 18. They structure classes within eight, 30-minute sessions from Monday through Thursday or once a week on Saturdays.
An eight-session package costs $50. To help ensure all children can attend the lessons, the park also offers scholarships through the Children's Services Council.
The program will run throughout the summer, with lessons offered from 11a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
The park's certified instructors talk to parents during the initial meeting to determine each student's skill level before placing the child in one of four levels.
"There are a large number of classes to choose from, set up on a skill-appropriate basis, so we can have very young patrons and those with pre-existing skills," Mr. Anderson said.
The program is important, park officials said, because drowning is the leading cause of death in children under age 5, and the second leading cause of injury-related death in children under 14.
"For its part, because water activities are so central to the Treasure Coast way of life, Sailfish Splash Waterpark will give, at no charge, 36 children an ability appropriate swim lesson simultaneously with the other participating organizations," officials said in marketing material for the launch event.
Their initial lesson drew a larger-than-expected crowd and since then, slots in the 8-class summer sessions have rapidly filled. "The response to it was really gratifying," Mr. Anderson said. "We did it in really short order, but are filling all the spots."
To register a child for lessons, call (772) 320-3100 and select option 6.