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Swimming program for kids with disabilities taking off despite pandemic

Good Swim has been around for a while, but now it's turning its focus to children with special needs, building a year-round indoor facility.

SAN ANTONIO — A new, but old swimming program is fine-tuning its mission —  teaching more children with disabilities how to swim.

Good Swim, run by long-time swimming instructor Diana Perry, created a non-profit organization with three goals in mind: to focus on children with special needs, to build an indoor pool so lessons can happen year-round and to even have children complete in the Special Olympics.

Perry, who has taught thousands of children out of her backyard pool near Alamo Heights for years, started a GoFundMe page to gather financial support to make her dream come true.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the leading cause of death in children under age four years is drowning. Good Swim reminds people that "for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries."

Credit: Good Swim

One thing often on Perry's mind is when children fall into a pool, parents are often not present to save them.

"The mission of Good Swim, Inc. is to provide the training to help prevent these heart-wrenching accidents," Perry said. "Every child who attends a Good Swim program leaves with increased skills to be safer around a body of water and many leave quite adept swimmers. Twenty percent of the children we teach have some form of physical or developmental disabilities. These children cannot participate in traditional programs - but at Good Swim, they are embraced and empowered in their own bodies in ways they never imagined."

Lessons are offered for persons of all ages and abilities.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, it was the beginning of Perry's swim season.

"Instead of closing our doors, we restructured our classes to comply with current COVID guidelines, adjusted our schedule from 12 classes a day with a 1:6 instructor/student ratio to 18 classes a day with a 1:4 ratio and we also offered refunds to families without question or qualification."

Perry said, as a result, enrollment dropped by 35% and her organization lost thousands of operating dollars.

To learn more, check out Good Swim's website.

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