Broward County Commission's Primary Resource and Referral Service for
Available Swim Programs in Cooperation With Various Cities and Nonprofit Organizations
What It Is
SWIM Central is the coordinating agency for water-safety instruction and awareness in Broward County. It maintains the most comprehensive database in Florida for swimming pools and water-safety programs in the county.
It is one of the only programs of its type in the country.
Why It's Needed
There are thousands of swimming pools, beaches, canals, lakes, and other waterways in South Florida. Consequently, drowning is the number-one killer of children ages 4 and under. In the late 1990s, Broward County also reported an average of five drowning deaths per year among children ages 4 through 7, and near-drowning accidents left three out of four victims suffering brain damage.
SWIM Central helped change that.
Since SWIM Central started in 1999, parents and guardians have enrolled more than 573,600 children in SWIM Central programs, and more than 3,350,000 lessons have been provided. In fiscal year 2017, more than 26,028 Broward County children received water-safety instruction and education through public elementary schools, charter schools, and day-care centers.
How It Works
SWIM Central's curriculum-based programs provide 10 free 30-minute water-safety classes over a two-seek period, taught by certified water-safety instructors during the school day who have been carefully selected and trained through SWIM Central.
There are now more than 180 elementary schools transporting children to SWIM Central educational programs offered in neighborhood pools. Children in summer camps and day-care centers have also benefitted from SWIM Central programs.
Aquatics programs are now available countywide, and they're filled to capacity with children learning to stay afloat in the water and bob for air.
Who Makes It Happen
The Broward County Commission established SWIM Central as part of Broward County Parks and Recreation in 1999 with initial funding of $82,000. The Broward County School Board and the Florida legislature added $200,000 for in-school pre-K, kindergarten, and first-grade water-safety education and instruction. Additional grants from the county allowed for a massive community outreach program to educate parents about local swim programs and the need to get their young children into water-safety classes.
A third partner, the Children's Services Council of Broward County (CSC), provides additional funding of more than $575,000. This money pays for programs, recruitment, training, and certification of swim instructors, along with basic first aid and CPR instruction for parents and guardians. Since 2014, the CSC provides $100,000 in coupons annually to offset the cost of swimming lessons for children ages 6 months through 4 years. For more information and to apply for a coupon, visit the Water Smart Broward Website.
The 2000 Safe Parks and Land Preservation Bond Program allocated an additional $20 million to SWIM Central in the form of capital bond grants to pay for new pools in local cities and at several eligible nonprofit organizations such as Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and Jewish community centers. These funds paid for the construction of 18 new aquatics facilities that now provide additional venues for SWIM Central and other water-safety community programming.