By Sandy Meyer

Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 in the state of Florida and most of these drownings occur in home swimming pools. Kari Bahour, founder of Water Smart Tots, is determined that by the year 2020, Hillsborough County will have zero pediatric drownings.

Water Smart Tots, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to eliminating pediatric drowning in Hillsborough County by promoting drowning prevention awareness through water safety education and by providing access to aquatic self-rescue swim lessons to all infants and young children ages 6 months to 5 years regardless of race, disability, or socioeconomic status. Survival swimming lessons teach the vulnerable infant or young child how to solve an aquatic problem by swimming, rolling back to float, rest and breathe; then flip over to resume swimming to safety.

“Whether it be a pond, lake or swimming pool, we’re basically surrounded by water. We feel drowning prevention is a community responsibility to ensure that all children are equipped with the skills they need to save themselves,” said Bahour.

Three area swim schools have partnered with Water Smart Tots to help bring underprivileged children specialized survival swimming lessons. These are private one-on-one lessons that teach children how to handle themselves should they ever fall into water. Watch Me Swim of Riverview can be reached at 643-7946, Cutri Swim Academy of Valrico can be reached at 685-8789 and Kinderswim of Brandon can be reached at 653-7138.

“These schools have agreed to accept a reduced fee for the lessons and the remainder is awarded from the donations that we receive,” said Bahour.

Water Smart Tots is currently trying to raise funds in order to provide these lessons. For every $10 donated during the month of April, the donor receives an entry to receive 5 weeks of survival swimming for free. Donations can also be made at www.watersmarttots.com. The winner will be chosen by random.org on May 1, just in time to kick off National Water Safety Month. Contact Water Sport Tots through the Website with any additional questions or to apply for a lesson voucher.