Understanding the context of drowning and its impact on the socio-economic climate in South Africa makes it essential that every child should learn how to swim. Not only does it teach the child essential water safety skills, but it equips them with a skill that may one day save their life or the life of their peers.
This is according to Andrew Ingram, Drowning Prevention Manager at the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) who shares an update on the organizations’ first survival swimming centre (SSC). “The centre has provided 400 swimming lessons to Meiring Primary School students, these lessons were taught over 15 operational days after the centre arrived at the school,” he states.
The first phase of this project is being tested at Riebeek Kasteel, and it has been well received by the school and the community at large. This SSC is a twelve-metre shipping container which features a six-meter-long swimming pool inside it.
Ingram states that they are currently teaching all the Grade 7 learners from the school and the urgency to teach them is because they are about to leave primary school for high school.” We strongly believe that equipping this grade with swimming skills is essential since they are about to enter their next chapter of their schooling” he adds.
Brenton Cupido, Headmaster at Meiring Primary School says words cannot describe what this centre is doing for the children at the school. “These lessons will not only change the lives of the children, but also of their families and peers. They now have water safety skills that will never be taken away from them” he explains.
Ingram explains that it has been an interesting and heartfelt process not only for the children, but for the swimming instructors as well.” How the childrens’ eyes light up once they realise that they can float and control their breathing in water has been incredible,” he explains.
During the official opening of the centre, the first 11 Meiring Primary school children were awarded with certificates after they mastered the fundamentals of how to hold their breath under water, open their eyes whilst under water and how to float and to safely propel themselves for at least five meters in the water.
“Another interesting observation has been that female students are more cautious around water as opposed to their male counterparts who showed less caution. This could be because boys tend to play more in and around dams,” Andrew states.
“We are extremely grateful to the following people and companies without whom the prototype SSC would not have happened at the speed that it did: Delve Aquatic Systems’ Jason Kampel; Dibana Logistics’ Brendan Hiscock; Fluidra team and management; Metalo’s Allan Searle; Mr Water Delivery’s Eric Putsman; Pools for Africa’s Jaap Brand and Power Plastic’s Caryn Formby.”
“Our next SSC 2 is currently being built and it will be placed in the Eastern Cape, followed by Kwa-Zulu Natal. Both these provinces have high drowning statistics. We hope to create a swimming culture in both Provinces,” concludes Ingram
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