Teen swimmer starts organization to provide free swim lessons for low-income families

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - "It just takes one moment when you look away," said Monique Girle.

At just six months old, Monique Girle's parents looked away, if only for a second.

"In the time that I could run into the kitchen, literally grab something and run back out, she'd slipped off her floati and was sitting on the bottom of the pool," said David Girle, Monique's father.

Monique was immediately pulled out of the water and was able to recover, but the event stuck with her. "Great parents, one mishap happens, it's really sad to me, so it really pushed me to this journey," said Monique. Now fifteen and a competitive swimmer, Monique started a non-profit called Swim 50 USA.

"It's more like, if you can swim 50 meters, you can get to safety," said Monique about the reason behind the name of her organization.

She got the idea when she realized many younger kids were either scared of the water or didn't know how to swim. Drowning is the leading cause of death in children one to four years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

"We all want to be able to feel safe in the water," said Monique. She began giving the free lessons last year to kids in her neighborhood. This year, she's racing to help another group.

According to the USA swimming, 80 percent of children from low-income families have little to no swimming ability at all.

"Swimming lessons do cost a lot, it is a cost for the teachers, the pool," admitted Monique. But here in her pool, kids learn to float, stroke and survive.

"We teach them to do the star fish float where they float on their backs, we teach them proper swimming techniques, breathing techniques," said Monique. "I teach them when to call 911 and how to use the wall to get to safety." And she's doing all of it for free.

"We've had a lot of kids, I haven't counted," said Monique. While she can't count the number of kids she's helped, there is a number that does stand out.

"Just to know that one kids is safe in the water, one kid is having fun," said Monique. "One, that's a win, every child's life is valuable, just save one and you've done a good thing," said David Girle.

There are a variety of resources to keep your child safe around water this summer, including a program by SRP where people can apply to receive a free pool fence.

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