Safe Start Testimonials



“The Safe Start program at the Central Florida YMCA is an integral part to saving lives in our community. Nothing breaks my heart more than reading about a drowning where I was born and raised right here in Central Florida. There is a cure and it is two simple words: swim lessons. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in the 1-4 age group. I have never believed in a program more passionately than our Safe Start survival course. I am so proud of our team of highly qualified instructors who teach our children with love, care and the utmost professionalism. I am so grateful to the Dr. Phillips Foundation for their incredible support over the years. We have saved so many lives with Safe Start and we will save many more in the future.”

Just a short 48 hours after finishing his Safe Start program our son fell into our pool as he was ‘helping’ to clean the pool. It was amazing how he flipped over and swam to the wall. He did this automatically without hesitation even though the water was terribly cold and he was dressed from head to toe in his church clothes and shoes.”

Thank you so much for teaching our son the Safe Start self rescue skills!

-The Hohmann Family


Khyleigh Grunloh first participated in Safe Start lessons at 7 months of age, after Natasha (mom) discovered the program through Facebook. She is currently 19 months old and recently completed her first refresher session.

Since “graduating” from Safe Start, Khyleigh has been using her skills in the pool, at the springs and at the beach. She especially loves to swim with her three older siblings (Alana, Kip and Kian). A passion for the water definitely runs in this family as Khyleigh’s parents own a boat and her dad (Kip) is a professional fishing guide.

Kip and Natasha have no regrets about enrolling Khyleigh in Safe Start. They believe that this program has given Khyleigh the confidence and skills she needs to stay safe in and around the water.

-The Grunloh Family


In Sunday’s newspaper, I (Carolyn) read the headlines with a pit in my stomach: ‘Boy, 5, drowns during a pool party…’ I almost could not read the article. Thankfully, we have a different story, a survival story: ‘Toddler, 2, found in Winter Park pool, floating on his back, a life-saving skill he learned at Safe Start, a YMCA swim program.’

The details are common: I (Dan) stepped away from the backyard grill for just a minute, making last minute preparations for our out of town dinner guests. As I returned through the front door, welcoming the guest as I walked in, I could see a ripple in the cold pool water. Immediately, I ran through the house yelling, ‘Carolyn, Richard Daniel is in the pool!’ Thankfully, Richard Daniel responded to what he was taught during his Safe Start lessons, months earlier. He was calm, floating on his back, confident in his skills. We were shaken by the reality that his little life was spared. God so graciously gave him another chance. A life spared, a life saved, a course for which we are most grateful.

-The Haber Family


After growing up in Florida and spending a lot of time around water, I wanted our children to learn water safety at an early age. I enrolled our twin boys in Safe Start at two-and-a-half, along with our one-year-old daughter. Just weeks after they graduated from the program, we realized what a life-saving decision we had made:

We were on a family vacation, everyone was swimming, and our daughter was standing at the edge of the pool. I was squatting behind her with my hands out, when I turned my head for a split second. All-of-a-sudden my husband shouted, “Amanda, she’s floating!” It happened so fast, I never even saw Alana fall into the pool!

Until that moment, I never thought something like this could happen to me, as I tend to hover too much over our kids. Now I know that it only takes a few seconds for your world to change and, thankfully, Alana knew just what to do. I looked down to see her calmly floating, waiting for me to pick her up. The crazy thing is that even though I knew the value of Safe Start (and had even experienced it saving our daughter’s life), when our fourth child was born I considered not enrolling him in the course. Many people had told me that the youngest child picks things up on their own and I thought I’d save myself the time and money.

I ended up hearing a story that convinced me to take Andrew through the lessons as well, and I’m confident it was the right decision. Being the youngest, he thinks he can do everything the big kids do, including jumping into the pool! He has no fear of the water. How grateful I am to instructor Justina, who has taught all four of our children and, most importantly, has given my husband and me peace of mind.”

-Amanda Stephens, parent of four Safe Start graduates

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