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FORT WORTH (CBS11) – A 6-year-old girl who drowned last year led to a new program that will affect almost two dozen Fort Worth apartment complexes and changed the way residents of what is now called Villa by the Park Apartments think about swimming pool safety.

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“That really hurt my heart,” said Kiarah Robinson as she watched her niece splashing in the apartment’s pool with other children. “I didn’t want it to be her. So I’ve got to protect her.”

YMCA lifeguards worked with children in small groups around the edge of the pool. Some practiced floating. Other clung to the edge and worked on kicking.

Twenty-five children are taking swim lessons for protection because of a hard-learned lesson one year ago.

“They were all out here swimming and stuff,” said Alesha Robinson. “And there was this little girl running around the pool saying, ‘Can you help me find my sister?'”

Six-year-old Waverly Williams drowned.

“My daughter help pulled her up onto the, you know, the bank,” Alesha Robinson said. “And they started pressing her chest and stuff.”

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Williams’ death spurred the YMCA to start offering free swimming classes at apartment complexes. They started with just five apartments last summer.

“This year we’re running at full force,” said Fort Worth’s YMCA Aquatic Specialist Jacquelyn Kotar. “We have 20 apartments we’re going to. Nine this month. Eleven next month.”

Statistics show formal swim training decreases a child’s chances of drowning by 88 percent.

And Parents are instructed on how to watch the pool more like a lifeguard.

“He doesn’t have a cell phone,” Kotar said looking at the lifeguard slowly sweeping his eyes from one end of the pool to the other. “He’s on the edge of the pool. He’s not back against the wall. They’ll switch out with another lifeguard every 15 minutes.”

“I watch everybody’s kids,” Alesha Robinson said emphatically. “I tell him to stop running, stop jumping. Because it’s scary.”

To find out more or to contact YMCA about pool safety programs click here and here.

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