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Nonprofit Teams Up With Swimming School To Offer Free Lessons At Major Owens Community Center In Brooklyn

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A nonprofit hosted its first free swimming class at a new community center at the former Bedford Union Armory in Brooklyn on Sunday.

It may have looked like just play, but the kids were getting comfortable in the water -- the first step to learning how to swim, CBS2's Thalia Perez reported.

"I was so scared," Kip Harkins said. "But then I knew I could do it, because someone was gonna catch me."

Tank Proof, a nonprofit, teamed up with the swim school Imagine Swimming for a special event, giving free classes to kids at the Major Owens Community Center.

Thurman Thomas is the co-founder. His organization has been nationally recognized for making lessons more accessible to children of color nationwide.

"A lot of these kids come in deathly afraid of the water, so having these kids come in smiling, laughing, enjoying the time, enjoying the moment, we can't ask for much better than that," Thomas said.

Thurman Thomas and his twin brother, Torrence Thomas, founded Tank Proof and said swim lessons should be free because they save lives.

"When I think back to each lives of the kids that we help, it makes it easier. It's not difficult work," Torrence Thomas said.

On average, private lessons cost anywhere from $30 to $50 for a half hour. Parents say that is a big factor.

"Right now, it's not really an option financially," Shirley Harkins said. "But this was free, so, yeah, it was a great opportunity."

Thurman Thomas said they make sure kids walk away with a valuable lesson during the free classes.

"One, never go swimming by yourself. Always make sure that there is an adult present. Two, if someone, or a friend, or, I don't care if it's a relative, if anyone is drowning, you don't jump in by yourself," Thurman Thomas said.

Tank Proof plans to come back to the pool again in summer of 2022, with more swim lessons in Brooklyn.

CBS2's Thalia Perez contributed to this report.

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