Community resources help keep everyone safe in water

Posted at 9:22 AM, Aug 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-17 06:43:26-04

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — James Jessup and his family are fairly new to Florida, and he's come a long way on his journey to learn how to swim. "I never got the confidence where I could put my head in the water," Jessup said.

He's learning how to swim at the YMCA of South Palm Beach County out of necessity. "I realized I need to learn because if one of my kids falls in the water - could I save them? And I couldn't," he said.

Jessup's 5-year-old daughter, Felicity, has been diagnosed with autism and loves to explore the water. She serves as Jessup's inspiration to learn how to swim over the last eighteen months.

"We can only accept instruction when we're mentally prepared to," Jeff Burgazzoli said. He's the lead swim instructor at the YMCA of South Palm Beach County. He helps people of all ages learn how to swim.

"Some of them come in with a bad experience, maybe they had a near drowning, so we have to psychologically connect them back to the water," Burgazzoli said.

Burgazzoli said he gets to know the person first and and fears of the water. He almost always begins a lesson with floating exercises to help the person relax. "They almost feel like they're floating in space," he said.

The YMCA of South Palm Beach County has two locations. The Executive Director, Barry Davis, said they can offer free or reduced rate swim lessons to anyone of any age thanks to grant money and generous donations. This includes people with special needs.