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All children deserve to be taught basic water safety skills: this is the goal of the NSRI’s free pop-up Survival Swimming lessons, happening at certain pools near you.

Visit your nearest municipal pool this summer, and you might just encounter one of the NSRI’s pop-up swimming lessons in action – the instructors are hard to miss in their bright pink costumes and caps.

This initiative forms part of the Institute’s Survival Swimming programme, which is geared towards equipping youth and adults in underdeveloped areas with enough skills to self-rescue, peer rescue and move through water to safety. The programme teaches the basics of breath-control, orientation, propulsion (kicking) and extrication (exiting water), and is aimed specifically at preventing the many child drownings that occur within a short distance of safety.

“In South Africa, we have had 1477 drownings annually, on average, over the past six years, and a large portion of those are due to a lack of basic swimming skills,” says Survival Swimming Project Coordinator Nazreen Adams. “It is essential to instill water safety basics in children, especially in underdeveloped communities that don’t have access to these kinds of lessons. Our aim is to upskill those who can’t swim and to reduce the number of drownings in the country.”

The pop-ups will take place at pools in and around Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, and form part of the Survival Swimming programme’s ambitious goal of delivering 15 000 Survival Swimming lessons and 600 000 water safety education lessons by the end of 2022.

Each session is free of charge and takes only 20 minutes, says Nazreen. “Our instructors are trained by our qualified senior Survival Swimming instructor and per international guidelines. They are competent swimmers that are also qualified in first aid, and adhere to all safeguarding practices. Instructors are assessed annually to ensure that their skills remain sharp and up to date with any new developments.”

Bookings are not necessary – participation is on a first-come, first-served basis – and the number of participants depends on the size of the pool and location: “Each instructor can assist between three and five participants per lesson,” says Nazreen. “They will assess each learner and group them as per their capability. If the learners can’t swim at all, the group will be kept at a maximum of three, and so on.”

To find out where and when the next Survival Swimming pop-up lesson will be happening near you, email

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