May Is National Water Safety Month!

May Is National Water Safety Month!

An "Almost" Tragic Drowning Accident Turns Wellington Business Man and Wife Into British Swim School Multi-Unit Franchisees

May 05, 2014 // // Wellington, FL - British Swim School, a full service, year-round and indoor swim school franchise offering water safety survival and swimming lessons for babies from three months through adult, franchisees Howie and Sarah Berkowitz had the scare of a lifetime when they thought their 18-month old son had drowned in a giant jet tub.

Howie Berkowitz dove into the giant get tub expecting to find his little boy Jack at the bottom. "It was the longest, most terrifying moment of my life." Parents Howie and Sarah Berkowitz realized in that instant - when they saw then 18-month-old Jack trapped and terrified but alive between the wall and the tub that a water survival class could mean life or death. From this "almost" tragedy, Jack became one of thousands of local children who graduated from British School Wellington’s Survival Skills Class.

British Swim Schools’ method is a fun yet meticulous, gradual and gentle process, which starts with teaching children of any age and adults to roll over onto their backs - the most important water safety survival skill. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, water survival skills decrease the risk of drowning by 88 percent. One of the first lessons the British Swim School instructor taught Jack - and his parents – is that children must know how to survive in the water long enough to be rescued or save themselves. Knowing how to do the freestyle stroke is not enough.

With drowning the leading cause of death in children under five years of age, water safety survival/swimming lessons are a vital part of a child’s development. The method is a building process, which begins with teaching babies even (as young as three months old) water safety survival skills, utilizing a structured program of songs, games and fun, which introduces the children to the water and teaches them to float independently on their back for the first time. Each 30-minute class is structured into a series of timed activities, including play time to ensure the young swimmers leave class with a positive feeling towards the water.

All British Swim School instructors are first aid, CPR, and lifeguard/CPA certified and have completed British Swim School’s rigorous training program. View British Swim School’s Survival Teaching Method:

Survival is more important than swimming

The program so impressed the Berkowitz’s that they became franchisees in Wellington. "We now have the confidence and peace of mind to know Jack can survive if he falls in the water," Sarah Berkowitz said. "Every day another child learns to roll over onto their backs and survive, we feel as though we have made a difference."

According to the Florida Department of Health, deaths from drowning for children under five in Florida more than double the national average. Children ages one to four have the highest drowning rates, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, young children can drown in less than two inches of water.

Nationally and according to the Safer3 Water Safety Foundation:

  • Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children five and under and the second leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. among children under 14.
  • Of all preschoolers who drown, 70 percent are in the care of one or both parents at the time; 75 percent are missing from sight for five minutes or less.
  • Fully 65 percent of all preschooler drowning incidents occur in the child’s home pool and 33 percent occur at the homes of friends, neighbors or relatives…a child can drown in the time it takes to answer a telephone.
  • Fifty-eight percent of parents do not consider drowning a threat to their children.

"As instructors, we teach survival skills before swimming. We ensure our students are water safe," said Stephanie Bachar, the aquatic manager at the British Swim School Wellington. "Teaching this way encourages confidence in the water and helps students develop into safe swimmers."

Like many of Berkowitz’s friends, they had thought about swimming lessons for their child - especially living in South Florida. But, Jack didn't really take to the backyard pool, and there just never seemed to be enough time.

'It happened so fast.'

Berkowitz and his wife were enjoying a typical gathering of parents and friends. The clamor of children running through the house filled the air. "We were in the kitchen talking to the other parents when everyone realized it was a little too quiet," Sarah Berkowitz said. "Right then, one of the other children came running in and said, 'Jack in the water! Jack in the water!'"

Hearts sank and two terrified parents ran for the bathroom. This was every parent's nightmare scenario.
In the swelling panic of jumping in the tub, no one noticed the soaked little boy had managed to perch himself on a ledge between a wall and the tub, trapped from escaping. When Jack spoke up, relief and tears flowed like water, according to Howie. "You hear about kids at the bottom of a swimming pool. This was a bathroom tub," the father said. "We just couldn't believe something like this could happen to us."

In a few short months at British Swim School, Jack, the kid who would not go in the water, could jump in, roll on his back and float. He moved up to the Turtle 1 class, which focuses on introductory swimming skills for children who have mastered survival skills. "It was so amazing to see his progress," said Berkowitz. "Watching all the children learn how to save themselves had such a powerful impact on the both of us that we had to become part of it all."

British Swim School offers a host of programs

Howie and Sarah purchased the British Swim School Wellington location and became franchisees, tucked into an office park by the popular Village Park, and then put all of their energy into spreading the word about the importance of water survival skills for children.

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About British Swim School

Founded in 1981 and headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, FL, British Swim School (BSS) currently operates six corporate locations, and, since starting to franchise in 2011, now has 20 franchises in six states and internationally in Turkey. British Swim School was founded and is still run by Rita Goldberg, a former national swimmer in Britain. Goldberg left state school teaching to open her own private swim school in the basement of a Victorian house in Manchester, England. Here she developed the unique and methodical teaching methods that have become a recognized trademark of BSS. British Swim School currently provides water safety survival/swimming/lessons to over 5,000 students per week and conducted over a quarter of a million swimming lessons system-wide in 2013.

BSS was recently ranked in Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 and was also ranked as one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s "Top 50 New Franchises." British Swim School has aligned itself with the Safer3 Water Safety Foundation (formerly The Swim for Life Foundation) whose mission is to "protect every life from drowning through education and heightened water safety awareness. For more information regarding BSS, please log onto or call 954-747-7251.

SOURCE British Swim School

Media Contact:

Ellen Bookman
Bookman Public Relations



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