Our Mission


Water Smart Tots, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to decreasing pediatric drowning.


We work towards our mission by providing water safety education and scholarships for survival swimming skills to children ages 12 months to 6 years who are financially underprivileged. We currently service the Greater Tampa Bay Area. 



The Startling Facts


  • Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 in the state of Florida. 


  • More than 50% of drowning victims treated in emergency departments require hospitalization or transfer for further care. These nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g., permanent vegetative state).  (U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention)​​


  • Among children ages 1-4, most drownings occur in home swimming pools. (U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention)​​​


  • Minorities:  Between 2005 and 2009, the fatal unintentional drowning rate for African Americans was significantly higher than that of whites across all ages.  (U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention)


About Survival Swimming Skills


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. 


Water Smart Tots, Inc. was founded on belief that ALL children should be equipped with these essential life saving skills regardless of financial hardship.


Because EVERY Child Deserves A Chance To Survive

Founder's Story

Kari Bahour became a water safety and drowning prevention advocate after her 16 month old son experienced a non-fatal, near drowning ​incident ​at a friend's pool. 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 without complications but 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. After doing her own research and receiving a recommendation from her neighbor, Kari enrolled her 16 month old son in a 6 week infant self-rescue swim program.   Amazed at the aquatic problem solving skills her son learned, she passionately pursued becoming a survival swimming 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 underwent additional extensive training to where she became qualified to train and mentor other instructors in the self-rescue methodology. Kari has trained instructors in Florida, Louisiana, Montana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Delaware.    

Drowning prevention and water safety became Kari's passion. She fiercely pursued many other avenues where she can make a difference ​and bring awareness to the pediatric drowning epidemic.  She became an active member of Hillsborough County Water Safety Team, the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, Safe Kids Greater Tampa Bay and the U.S. Swim School Association just to name a few. 

Kari founded Water Smart Tots, Inc. after Mother's Day weekend in 2014 when there were four pediatric drownings in a single weekend in the Tampa Bay Area. She wanted to give back to her community, ​and believed that every child deserves the opportunity to learn survival swimming skills regardless of financial hardship.