Scholarship Fund helps fund swimming lessons in Merced

MERCED, Calif.

Merced's McNamara pool is filled with children this summer, all getting swimming lessons at a deeply discounted price. The classes were going to cost $35 per child, until the city received a $6,000 donation to cover the program's operating expenses.

The money came from the "Swim 4 Jaylin Scholarship Fund," through United Way of Merced County. Jaylin Shepherd's family started the fund after the 4-year-old drowned in March.

"She loved us, and she loved swimming, so I thought what better way to honor her and give her legacy and share that love with our community especially the children," said Flip Hassett, Jaylin's grandfather.

Flip Hassett spearheaded the effort in memory of his granddaughter. Aquatics have been in his family for years, and he says Jaylin and her twin were just learning to swim when she somehow slipped into a hot tub during a birthday party.

Now Hassett is on a mission to make sure every child in the community can afford these lifesaving lessons.

"I'm looking at well over 600, 700 kids this year. I want to double that next year," said Hassett.

Other groups are also helping to keep the price down. First Five of Merced County donated to the program, and members of the Merced Skimmers Swim Program are volunteering as instructors.

Parents Action News spoke with say they are grateful for everyone who's working to keep their children safe.

"It's great. I think as many kids as possible should take advantage of it. Hopefully it save another child that could have potentially drowned because they didn't get the lessons," said Shauna Barringer from Merced.

The next session of $10 lessons will run from July 22 to August 1. There are only a few spots left.

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