(WMC-TV) - About 4,000 people die in the United States each year from accidental drowning. Many of those victims are children.
A local group is working to teach kids the importance of water safety and is offering swimming lessons that could save lives.
More than 100 kids were at the Hickory Hill Aquatic Center Thursday morning to take part in the "World's Largest Swimming Lesson".
Hosted by "Make a Splash Mid-South," this is the second year the event has been held to build awareness about the importance of teaching children to swim to prevent drowning.
"It's really just everyone coming together to serve our children and help them be safe in and around water and develop a lifelong skill," said Chairman Anthony Norris.
In May, a 16 year old boy drowned in a swimming pool at the Cherokee Cabana Apartments.
Paramedics worked frantically to save the young man after he ignored no trespassing signs, jumped the fence, and went the water.
"And here I am, a minister, a man of God, and I'm standing looking over a young man dying before me. I mean, it's a shame. It should not have been," said Rev. Marvin Stanley.
Drowning is the second leading cause of death for school-age children and the leading cause of death for preschoolers. More than half of all drowning deaths happen in swimming pools.
Mother She'rri McClellan says her 6 year old son always wears a life jacket in the family pool, but he showed up to the swimming less to learn how to not be afraid of the water.
Make A Splash Mid-South's goal is to teach 1,000 children to swim before the 2012 summer Olympics.