Water Smart Tots, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating pediatric drowning in the Greater Tampa Bay area. 

Community donations and support has allowed Water Smart Tots, Inc. to provide interactive water safety programs to thousands of preschoolers in addition to awarding hundreds of scholarships for high-quality swim lessons to financially underprivileged children ages 12 months to 5 years.  

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Founder's Story


Kari Bahour is an Aquatic Behavioral & Drowning Prevention Specialist.  Her passion for water safety was the result of her 16 month old son experiencing a non-fatal, drowning at a friend's pool in 1998. Despite the proper pool barriers and 3 adults in the home, her infant son managed to briefly escape adult supervision ending up in a cold pool floating face down and unconscious. Thankfully her son survived and was released from John Hopkins All Children's Hospital after a 24 hour observation. Kari was well aware her son's situation could have ended in tragedy. In concern for her son’s safety, Kari researched several swim programs looking for one that would teach “competence” in the water before instilling “confidence”. After her son’s experience, she knew all too well how easy a curious toddler can briefly escape supervision and end up in a dangerous situation. Kari enrolled her 16 month old son in the ISR infant self-rescue swim program. Amazed at the aquatic problem solving skills her son learned, she passionately pursued becoming a Certified ISR Instructor to provide these essential lifesaving skills to more children.  

Since 2000, ​she ​has had the privilege and honor of teaching aquatic self-rescue ​swimming ​skills to thousands of infants and young children. In 2008, Kari was selected to undergo additional extensive training to where she became qualified to train and mentor other instructors in the self-rescue methodology. Kari has trained and mentored instructors in Florida, Louisiana, Montana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Delaware.    

In 2014 tragedy struck the Tampa Bay area on a single weekend.  On Mother's Day weekend of that year, 4 children under age 5 drowned in the Tampa Bay area.  Kari was devastated at the tragic news especially since one of the children's incident occurred right in her backyard, Riverview, FL.  Kari knew more needed to be done as a community to stop these preventable tragedies from occurring.  To support her efforts and give back to the community, Kari founded Water Smart Tots, Inc.  WST is a 501 c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating pediatric drowning in the Greater Tampa Bay area. 

Her drowning prevention efforts and contribution to the Bay area has been honored and recognized on local and national levels. 


Kari is a member of Hillsborough County Water Safety Team, the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA), Hillsborough County's Child Abuse Death Review Committee and Safe Kids Greater Tampa Bay are just to name a few.  She remains committed to her personal mission of ensuring not one more child drowns. 

Survival Swimming Skills

(High quality swim lessons)


Survival swimming lessons teach the vulnerable infant or young child how to solve an aquatic problem by swimming, rolling back to float, rest and breathe; then flip over to resume swimming to safety (swim-float-swim).   These skills are needed in case supervision breaks down or a safety fence or barrier does not exit.  Survival swimming skills provide that extra layer of protection for the infant or young child to have a chance at surviving an accidental fall into the water. 


Survival swimming lessons are conducted one-on-one with just one specially trained instructor and one child in the water. Lessons are conducted either 4 or 5 days per week for approximately 10 minutes per day.   All lessons are individualized for each child's pace and ability.  Generally students complete their initial course in 4-6 weeks. 


To locate a specialized survival swim instructor, please click here