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Swim Safety In S. Fla. Often A Matter Of Life & Death

WESTON (CBS4) -- Drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages 1 - 4 and Florida's drowning death rate among children age 5 is the highest in the nation. These statistics show why its so important for children in South Florida to get swimming lessons. It could mean the difference between life and death, a lesson the Marzan family learned first hand.

When 3-year-old Bowen Marzan slipped and fell into a pool, his mother Jacqueline froze in fear.

"He just slid on the edge and went right under and we were just in shock," said Jacqueline.

Weeks before, a decision to put Bowen in swimming lessons at the Miami Children's Dan Marino Outpatient Center may have saved his life.

"He swam to the edge so I'm happy I kept him in the lessons cause it was enough to get him to safety," said Marzan.

Unfortunately, similar situations don't always have such happy endings.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report drownings as the leading cause of injury and death for young children ages 1 to 4 and an estimated 19-percent of drowning deaths involving children occur in public pools where lifeguards are present.

Swim lessons mean the difference between life and death. According to the CDC, three children die every day as a result of drowning, and a 9-year-old South Florida boy, unfortunately, became part of that statistic recently.

Divers pulled the body of Samuel Sabin out of a lake behind his family's Oakland Park apartment, leaving his father distraught.

"I can't explain it, I can't explain it," said Cenou Sabin.

Police say taking precautions is imperative.

"If you know your child can't swim and you live by a body of water, you need to take every precaution," said Veda Coleman-Wright with the Broward Sheriff's Office. "I see there is a gate around the lake, but I'm told the gate was not locked."

The likelihood of these tragedies are even higher in a place like South Florida.

"Around summertime we see the public service announcements, but in south Florida we can talk about this year round with the warm climate," insisted Coleman-Wright.

For Jacqueline the lessons were a peace of mind. "Make it a priority, even if the children are reluctant, crying and screaming, the instructors know what they are doing, You should definitely continue and make sure they learn."

For more information about swim safety classes in your neighborhood, go to


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