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A DASH OF MAGIC (From left) Daria Ilunga, Kathleen McKenna and Melon Dash wade into the Gulf of Mexico on an August morning at Crescent Beach on Siesta Key. Photo by Rachel Hackney SARASOTA WOMAN TO MAKE PITCH FOR NATIONAL FUNDING TO TEACH ALL AGES TO BE COMFORTABLE IN THE WATER By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor On Oct. 10, Sarasota resident Melon Dash will step up to a podium in Norfolk, VA, and make a 40-minute pitch for funding to teach millions of people how to conquer their fear of the wa- ter. She expects to be speaking to about 500 peo- ple at the first Step into Swim Congress/World Aquatic Health Congress about "changing the [teaching] paradigm from strokes to comfort." She will be one of only four people or groups having the opportunity to make a case for grant money from a $78,000 fund the congress has to award. "My job is to show them we are the best bet … because we teach adults — afraid adults." Dash founded her Miracle Swimming Institute in 1983. Since then, she has used what observ- ers and students describe as a revolutionary system of teaching people to feel at ease in the water — and then to swim, snorkel, SCUBA dive — the possibilities seem limitless once they get past their fears. As her institute marks its 30th year, Dash esti- mates she and the instructors she has taught have created more than 4,000 comfortable, happy swimmers.

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