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Legislature approves $220K bill for swimming lessons, lifeguard training

The funding would help at-risk and low-income children learn to swim, as well as address lifeguard shortages.

The Minnesota Senate approved funding on Monday that aims to combat the recent spike in child drownings in the state.

The Senate approved a Legacy Finance bill Monday that includes $220,000 to help low-income and at-risk children learn to swim.

The funding would also address lifeguard shortages in the state, which comes after a decline in available trained lifeguards because of the COVID-related restrictions in 2020.

The bill will now head to Gov. Tim Walz’s office.

The legislation follows a string of drownings in the state so far in 2021, including several fatal incidents involving children.

“We have experienced far too many water-related tragedies this year,” said Sen. Mike Goggin (R-Red Wing), the Senate bill’s author, in a statement.

“My heart breaks for these families who will never get to see their loved ones again; I can’t imagine the grief they are dealing with. Being a strong swimmer will not end these accidents overnight, but it will be a massive help.”

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On June 13, 9-year-old Geoffrey Compton drowned in Carver Lake in Woodbury while celebrating his birthday. There were no lifeguards on the beach at the time of the drowning.

Earlier this month, a 12-year-old boy died after he was found unresponsive at North Commons Water Park in Minneapolis, while in North Mankato, a 9-year-old boy died in a drowning at Spring Lake Park Swim Facility, temporarily closing the pool.

In total, there have been 25 water-related deaths in Minnesota this year, including five involving children, according to FOX9

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