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Port St. Lucie woman teaches swimming lessons using unique mask

Virginia Hannon teaches swimming in Port St. Lucie on May 5, 2021.jpg
Posted at 3:05 PM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 18:34:08-04

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — May is National Water Safety Month, and a St. Lucie County woman is rebounding to help keep children safe in the water.

For Leslie Nelson, getting swim lessons for her kids Cameron and Austin was a no-brainer.

"One of our friends lost their kid, three years old, to drowning," Nelson said.

According to the CDC, Florida ranks 5th in drowning deaths among children under 17.

"We have a boat and we go out on the water and yes they wear their life jackets but God forbid something happens," Nelson said.

Nelson brought them to Floating Otters Swim School, to Virginia Hannon’s pool in Port St. Lucie.

"We have water everywhere, everyone has a pool, there is a canal in the backyard for the most part," Hannon said. "Kids knowing how to survive in a fall in situation is vital.”

Hannon says they had to shut down for months at the beginning of the pandemic.

"It was really tough. No one in my industry knew how to handle it," Hannon said.

Then when they were allowed to start up again, there were the challenges of creating a COVID safe environment.

One of the biggest issues for Miss Virginia was figuring out how to keep her and her students safe in the pool when it comes to masks. Traditional masks just don’t work (but she has found a solution.

"They need to see my face, they need to see my smile. It’s very important for them to see the facial expressions that I have," Hannon said.

Even with mask mandates lifting, Virginia and her instructors will continue to wear them.

But the bigger issue at the pool is the same, that the lessons learned here stick.

"Piece of mind knowing that my children have an idea what they need to do to stay safe," Nelson said.