More than 50 years ago, it was the vision of Dr. Bill Kent, Chairman of the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF), to have "Every Child A Swimmer." His vision has turned into a movement in the swimming world to address childhood drowning. Dr. Kent has spearheaded the "Every Child A Swimmer" legislation, which passed the Florida House and Senate this year. Starting in the new school year for 2022, the legislation will require Florida schools to ask if a child has participated in swimming lessons as a part of their school-entry health exam. It will also require schools to provide information regarding swimming lessons if the parents report that their children have not participated in swimming lessons prior to entering kindergarten. It is now our goal to take this legislation national. This session will provide additional insight into the program and discuss scholarship opportunities available.
Mary Jackson was born into swimming. Her parents, Jack & Sherrill Nelson, ran the Fort Lauderdale Swim Team at the International Swimming Hall of Fame until 2004. At five years old, she began swimming competitively and began teaching swimming in high school. She earned her degrees in Industrial Arts and Elementary Education from San Francisco State. Upon her 1998 return to Florida, with her swimming and education knowledge, she built a comprehensive learn-to-swim program for FLST. This is the foundation for AquaChamps Swim School, which she owns and operates with Dan Vawter in Oakland Park, FL.
Dan Vawter grew up in Indiana and began competitive swimming at five years old. At fourteen, his passion for teaching began in his backyard pool. In 1997, he began working with “Coach” Jack & Sherrill Nelson’s Fort Lauderdale Swim Team at the International Swimming Hall of Fame. In 2004, he joined Mary Jackson to lead the Jack Nelson Swim School, which in 2007 became AquaChamps Swim School. In 2020, AquaChamps opened a brand-new facility in Oakland Park, FL. Dan, Mary, and other community leaders worked together to pass the Florida “Every Child a Swimmer” legislation, which was enacted in 2022.