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In January, Duduzile Junior Secondary School on the South Coast became the recipient of the NSRI’s third mobile Survival Swimming Centre.

Imagine a heated indoor swimming pool that can be transported to virtually anywhere in the country – particularly places without access to adequate infrastructure – where children and adults can learn life-saving swimming skills… The Drowning Prevention team at NSRI imagined just that, and recently completed and installed its third Survival Swimming Centre at Duduzile Secondary School on the South Coast, near Port Sheptsone.

The first two Survival Swimming Centres installed in the Eastern and Western Cape have already won the 2022 International Maritime Rescue Federation Award for Innovation and Technology.

These mobile swimming pools are the first of their kind in the country – and, in fact, the world. The swimming pools are built inside a specially equipped shipping container, which can be transported and installed anywhere in the country, provided the right conditions are met.

“There is a lot to consider, logistics-wise,” says NSRI Drowning Prevention Manager Andrew Ingram, who has overseen the Survival Swimming Centre project – construction of the centres, sponsorship, transport – in its entirety. Indeed, each 12m x 4.7m container needs access to cell reception, electricity and clean water sources, while the location itself needs to be on level ground, have room to manoeuvre a truck, and be accessible by roads that are in a decent condition.

“Every installation is a huge learning curve,” says Andrew, who had to change locations once it was realised their initial choice was not suitable. Indeed, the second Survival Swimming Centre, near Port St Johns, needed repairs to a water pipe that would have taken a day in or near a major metropole. It took almost a week to repair.

SSC3 training

KwaZulu-Natal has the highest rate of drowning incidents in the country. Once installed, the ground-breaking Centre, supervised by local NSRI Survival Swimming instructor Nkazimulo Nyawose, will provide access to a clean, safe environment for students, teachers and locals to learn critical swimming skills in any weather conditions.

Various instruments allow the NSRI Drowning Prevention team to monitor the swimming pool remotely, with the assistance of the local instructor, to ensure that hygiene and safety standards are maintained.

Dr Jill Fortuin, Executive Director of Drowning Prevention, has set a target of 25 000 Survival Swimming lessons this year, in the hopes of drastically reducing the tragic drowning rates in the province.

“We have three more Survival Swimming Centres in the pipeline,” says Jill. “One is going to Barcelona! We will reveal more about this project next month. We haven’t finalised specific destinations for the other two yet, but they will probably be placed in locations in the Western Cape and Gauteng.”

The construction, transport and maintenance of these Centres would not be possible without the support of local businesses, fundraisers and generous sponsors. The NSRI would like to thank Fluidra South Africa, Metalo, Boland Pools & Spas, Dibana Logistics, Delve Aquatic Systems, Pool Clear, Seaco International Shipping Containers, Pools for Africa, and Victron Energy for their generous support.

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