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Mother offers water safety classes after losing teenage son

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MADISON, Ohio – Her son drowned in Lake Erie last July; now a grieving mother is honoring his life by offering free water safety classes.

“He was in the water for five minutes, not even five minutes, and he was gone. Just very quickly he got caught in a rip current,” said Melissa Zirkle.

Her son Jermaine, 13, had been swimming with friends when it happened.

She said at the time, she didn’t know anything about rip currents.

Since then, she’s done a lot of research and is now organizing a special water safety class for swimmers.

“We didn’t know about the dangers of rip currents or how to get out of them, and that what the classes are going to teach. They're going to focus on how to get out of a rip current, how to recognize someone in a drowning situation, and how to save them or yourself if nobody is around,” she said.

Zirkle teamed up with the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project and ODNR to make this happen.

Together, they’re hosting three water safety classes. They’ll all be held for free at beaches along Lake Erie. Anyone is welcome to sign up.

As far as what people can expect, there will first be a meet and greet, then a presentation, followed by lessons in the water.

Zirkle said the past year has been tough for her family, but she said knowing she could make a difference has really helped.

“If one person is saved from all this, then my efforts were worthwhile,” she said.

Here is the class schedule:

June 12: Mentor Headlands Beach Park, 6 p.m.

June 13: Saybrook Township Park, 6 p.m.

June 14: Madison Township Park, 10 a.m.

To sign up, Melissa Zirkle asks that you call her at 440-344-8099 or click here to email her.