School hopes to save lives with swim lessons

Marc and Tanya Jablon launched Safety First Swim School after almost losing their own daughter in a near-drowning accident.

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  • | 11:50 a.m. May 19, 2017
Tanya Jablon, co-owner of Safety First Swim school, gives lessons both at the West Or- ange Country Club and at the Jablons’ Winter Garden home.
Tanya Jablon, co-owner of Safety First Swim school, gives lessons both at the West Or- ange Country Club and at the Jablons’ Winter Garden home.
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WINTER GARDEN –– Tanya Jablon, the owner of Safety First Swim School, has a job that comes with a lot of benefits. She gets to work from home, enjoys a picturesque lakefront view and, as part of her routine work shifts, gets to cuddle with babies. 

With her husband, Marc Jablon, in charge of public relations and Tanya’s role as the primary swim instructor, the couple run their company out of their home in Winter Garden and the West Orange Country Club. The school, which has been in operation for four years, offers a survival swim program for infants and children aged from 6 months to 12 years old. 

The idea behind the program is to reduce the risk of fatal accidents that can happen during those few seconds a curious child is left unattended. As such, the lessons are designed to teach children what to do if they ever accidentally fall or slip into a pool — an incident that can happen to anyone, Marc Jablon said. Depending on the child’s age, they instruct them to either float on their back or swim to the near- est wall or floatation device. 

“These lessons are the difference between life and death,” Marc Jablon said. “You hear stories all the time about children who had a drowning incident. ... If you decide with dance, or tennis or golf or any of the other sports, ‘You know what? It’s not for me right now. I’m going to wait until they’re a little bit older.’ OK, so they don’t learn how to hit a ball over the net, or they don’t learn dance — that’s OK. But if you decide to wait before giving your child the life-saving skills they might need, you might end up at a hotel or a pool party and be on your phone, and all it really takes is one second.” 

Marc Jablon speaks from first-hand experience — an experience that served as the impetus to launch their company after their daughter had a near-drowning incident in their backyard pool. While he worked in his home office, his daughter found her way into the pool area because the safety fence had been left open for the family dogs to enter and exit. The sight of his 1-year- old daughter face down in the water before they pulled her out and called 911 was a traumatic experience neither he or his wife will ever forget, he said. 

The incident is also what spurred his wife to obtain train- ing in water-safety techniques and enroll both their children in a similar survival swim program. Their 15-minute lessons, Marc Jablon said, really can save lives and provide parents a little peace of mind. 

Two-year-old Penelope practices feet first dives with Tanya Jablon's assistance.
Two-year-old Penelope practices feet first dives with Tanya Jablon's assistance.

“Imagine taking your child to a playground and saying, ‘You can’t use the slide or the swing,’ or anything like that,”MarcJablonsaid. “That happens every day when people are having pool parties or different things. We heard about this family going to a hotel on vacation and one of the kids who was a year-and-a-half didn’t take survival swim lessons, and it was a nightmare because they were constantly afraid of the child going toward the water. So those are the reasons why parents sign up — it’s peace of mind that if their child ever fell into the water, they would know what to do.” 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger, and children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. And for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries, the CDC reported. 

The Jablons are well aware of the statistics, and their goal is to do their part in reducing the ever-present risk. Marc Jablon receives several panicked calls from parents whose child nearly drowned in a swimming pool, and their program sees substantial demand, offering 50 to 80 lessons per day among all three instructors. 

“People don’t think it’s going to happen to them until it does,” Marc Jablon said. “You want to make sure that they have all those skills necessary for if they ever accidentally fall into the water. Yeah, it’s uncomfortable (to watch), and you might hear them crying, but you’d rather hear them crying than never hear them again.” 


Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected] 



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