SOUTH BELOIT (WIFR) -- The recent and tragic drowning of three-year-old Liam Vaughn of Rockford is prompting a local swim club to take action. Catch the Wave Swim Club in South Beloit is offering free lessons for families in need, to hopefully save lives.
Two-and-a-half year-old Mason isn't afraid to jump into the water. He can float on his back and swim to the edge after taking lessons for nearly a year at Catch the Wave Swim Club. His parents believe the lessons saved Mason's life when they lost sight of him at a pool party last year.
"I went around the corner and I saw him and I said 'Oh my god, oh my god, Mason's in the water.
(My wife Angie) just jumped in with her clothes, in the water and grabbed him and he looked at her and said, 'I swim mommy, I swim.' I'm like 'thank god you swim,' it saved his life," said Tim Mazurkiewicz.
That incident happened after just five swim lessons.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, children between one and four years-old have the highest drowning rates. That's why instructors are trying to get more kids in the pool to prevent those statistics.
Catch the Wave co-owner Brandon Stoffregen is kicking off a campaign called No Excuse Swimming Lessons.
"The two main excuses are usually time and money; if you have a half hour a week and at least a dollar, you're going to get two months of lessons from us. If you don't have a dollar, we'll front you a dollar," said Stoffregen.
He adds, "In eight weeks I know that I can at least take a kid and they can survive that initial fall into the water. That first fall is crucial, they'll either learn to come up to the top for water or they're going to stay at the bottom and if they're down at the bottom you can't see or hear them."
Mason's parents say he screamed for the first two months of his swim lessons but then started to like the water. They say instructors assure them that kids are still retaining that information and learning even during the tough times.
Catch the Wave is going to have a wait list for the free lessons. If they reach capacity the club will start another wait list for the next two months. Owners say they want this to turn into a national campaign to help prevent as many drownings as possible.
To contact Catch the Wave Swim Club, call 815-713-4481.