Nicklaus Children's Hospital Marino Adapted Aquatics Certification

Many children with disabilities drown in the State of Florida due to the inaccessibility and unavailability of appropriate swimming programs. Teaching children to be safe in and around water is our priority for the reasons listed below. In previous years:

  • Florida Department of Health (DOH) records indicate enough children die each year in water related accidents to fill approximately 4 preschool classrooms.
  • Drowning is the leading cause of death and non-fatal hospitalizations for children 1 to 4 years old in Florida according to the DOH.
  • Florida DOH records indicate that in 2008, 479 Florida residents drowned. Children between 1 and 4 years of age constituted 13% of those deaths and 47% of those hospitalizations.

While it is crucial to keep an eye on children near a body of water, it is equally important to make sure that they are comfortable in the water and respectful of its dangers. Many individuals with developmental disabilities are attracted to water and lack safety awareness when it comes to dangerous situations. Therefore, swimming instruction for this population is of the utmost importance. However, swimming instructors without experience with children with developmental disabilities may find it challenging to gain their attention, motivate them to follow rules and routines, and to teach basic survival skills.

Teaching basic survival skills to children with developmental delays allow them to experience aquatic activities that may offer unique experiences for the individual with developmental disabilities. Opportunity exists for motor skill acquisition, strengthening, and social/communication skills as well as fun and relaxation. Inclusion in school and community activities for these individuals has created a dramatic increase in their participation in aquatics.

Parents and caregivers of individuals with special needs look to the aquatics community for expert advice and instruction for their child and have created a demand for quality swim instruction by certified teachers with specialized knowledge.

dan marino foundation logoIn order to address this problem, in April of 2006, House Bill 1319 was unanimously passed in both the Florida House of Representatives and the Senate. This Bill requires certification of swimming instructors working with people with developmental disabilities and is imperative to the safety of these individuals. The funding that the Dan Marino Foundation receives will be for the development and implementation of the instructor training program.

Our instructional manual, the online learning component, and water workshops include mandatory topics for special needs involvement in swimming and water safety. The content is mainly designed to certify instructors working with individuals with developmental disabilities. Swimming instructors completing this certification course will meet the requirements of the State of Florida for working with this population.

The Nicklaus Children's Hospital Marino Adapted Aquatics program gratefully acknowledges the generous support provided by the Dan Marino Foundation, Inc., the State of Florida, and the Broward County Board of County Commissioners.

Steps to becoming certified:

To become certified through the Nicklaus Children's Hospital Marino Adapted Aquatics Certification course, you must review the study materials and pass the Certification exam with a score of 80% or better. 

Please follow these steps:

  1. Register online
  2. Submit a payment of $75 to Nicklaus Children's Hospital for the course after you register online.
  3. Download the course manual
  4. Take the exam once you receive a username and password.
  5. Your certificate(s) will be mailed to your billing address. 
  6. Once you have reviewed the course materials and are prepared to take the certification exam, you will have access to the course for a duration of 4 hours. If you exceed the time allotted for the exam or do not pass, you will need to contact the Certification Manager and will be granted a chance to re-take the exam free of charge one time. If you do not pass the Certification exam on the second try, you will need to pay the course fee again.
If you require any assistance or have any questions, please contact:
Jamie Tarshis, Rehabilitation Services Manager
(954) 385-6242