I Am Local 6: Women teach hundreds of kids water safety

Every day in the U.S., 10 people die from drowning. Two of every 10 are children 14 years old and younger.

Two local women are fighting that statistic by teaching hundreds of kids how to stay safe in the water.

It all started six summers ago when Sharye Hendrix and Ann Bard had an idea for a swim class.

"I looked at her and said ‘Do you think anybody will come?’ and (Ann) said ‘I don’t know,’" Hendrix said. "Now we’re up to 582 as of next Friday."

The class is called Safe Swimmers, where kids learn more than just how to swim.

"The very first thing we do is we sit the kids on the edge of the pool, and we teach them what to do if they fall in," said Bard. She said it is important not to pressure them to get in the water.

"Children drown because they don’t know how to be safe around the water," said Hendrix. "Every time we see something on the TV that’s tragic, we know that if they would’ve (taken) our class they would’ve learned something."

The first thing they teach the kids is to grab the wall.

"The biggest thing is the lives that have been saved," said Bard. She’s not exaggerating. Drew Whitledge’s older sister took Safe Swimmers. His dad says his daughter has used what she learned to help others.

"The little kid got in the water and was struggling, and she dove from the side, pulled her out of the water, and she talks about how she saved somebody all the time," said Joshua Whitledge.

It’s that kind of confidence they want all their swimmers to have.

They don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

"As long as I can stand up in the pool, I might be 80, but I think I can teach," said Hendrix. She said by the time she’s 80, she hopes to have helped more than 1,000 kids.

They teach kids ages 3 to 12. Classes are $65 for five days. Classes run at different times during the evenings.

For more information or to sign your kid up, you can call the Fulton Country Club at 731-479-3016 or Sharye Hendrix at 731-335-0109.

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