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Beaumont man calls swimming a 'survival skill,' provides lessons from home

At-home swim instructor calls attention to the need for swimming as a skill
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A Beaumont man was recently approved by city council to continue providing swim lessons from his home. After an anonymous complaint was made to the city, Raymond Ford Jr. is glad to have official permission from Beaumont City Council to continue teaching others to swim.

"It gave me a fire, a new desire -- even more advertising than what I've previously done. I want to reach out and help as many people learn how to swim, kids and adults," said Ford.

To Ford, learning to swim is not just a business but a necessity.

"It's so much water around this area I think everybody at least should know how to if they have to, to save themselves or save their child -- get their self to safety," said Ford.

Ford nearly stopped providing lessons because of the pandemic until a child drowned in Beaumont.

"I told my wife that night that was my sign from God to go full steam ahead with this and I've been doing It ever since. Like I said this is my fifth summer doing this," said Ford.

According to, 64 percent of African-American children, 45 percent of Mexican/Latino children and 40 percent of Caucasian children have little-to-no swimming ability. In households with incomes less than $50,000, 79 percent of children have little-to-no swimming ability.

"I did that research myself as well and that's why I said I'm open to anybody that wants to learn, anybody that wants to enroll their kids... I just want them to learn because like I said, I don't want nobody in our city or surrounding cities to drown," said Ford.

Ford has taught almost 600 kids and 300 adults in Southeast Texas how to swim. Jacquaia Devault is one adult who didn't have access to a pool growing up.

"I had never signed up for lessons just out of fear," said Devault.

Devault is 29 years old and swims like a fish after signing up her daughters.

"They did really good and so I was like 'Why wouldn't I sign up?' If they can do it, I can do it," said Devault.

Devault is the exact kind of person Ford is hoping to reach.

"My goal is just to teach. Teach as many people to overcome their fear of water," said Ford.

So far, helping children and adults overcome their fears seems to be working.

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Ford offers lessons five days a week. He says people have come from as far as Dallas to learn from him. For more information on Ford's swim lessons, he can be contacted directly at 409-960-1979.

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