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The NSRI, in collaboration with Fluidra South Africa, are piloting a new type of pool – POP! – one that, if successful, will see even more children around the country learn life-saving swimming skills.

Building on the success of their Survival Swimming Centres (SSCs) – a ground-breaking project that has brought life-saving swimming skills to children in rural areas throughout the country – the NSRI, in collaboration with Fluidra South Africa, recently piloted the first POP! pool at Pineview Primary school in Grabouw.

Unlike the four SSCs, which are housed inside shipping containers, the POP! pool is an outdoor, above-ground pool, and has the advantage of being both cheaper and easier to maintain.

“This is an experiment to find out how easily and cheaply we can teach as many children to swim as possible,” says the NSRI’s Communications Manager Andrew Ingram, the brains behind the SSCs and POP! pools. “The Survival Swimming Centres are roughly R680 000 each [and amount that decreases depending on donation inputs], while these POP! pools are only around R60 000, meaning we could potentially roll out many more.”

The water filters are of exceptional quality, able to stand a high bather load, and the water’s exposure to sunlight means the quality will be easier to maintain.

“Currently, the maintenance of water quality inside the containers needs constant monitoring, and we still need to find a way to decentralise this task,” says Andrew. “We are hoping to train a local volunteer to give Survival Swimming lessons in the POP! pool, as well as maintain the equipment.”

One of the drawbacks of the POP! pool is that, due to being outdoors, it won’t be possible to give lessons in the winter months. It will take roughly a year to ascertain how many children can be taught – safely and affordably – throughout that time period.

A team effort

The support provided by Fluidra since the outset of the SSC project has been phenomenal, adds Andrew, who works closely with Simoné van der Merwe from Fluidra.

“For the past two years, our collaboration with Andrew and his team has been marked by their unwavering professionalism and dedication,” says Simoné. “They have created a secure environment for teaching underprivileged children how to swim, ultimately saving lives. As Fluidra, experts in crafting exceptional pool experiences, we take pride in supporting the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) with Survival Swimming pools. Giving back to the community and fostering a culture of swimming for the future brings us immense satisfaction. The POP! pool, generously donated by Fundació Fluidra, a foundation conceived as a natural step forward in Fluidra’s commitment to society, has been expertly transformed into a safe swimming facility by Andrew and his team. We eagerly anticipate the growth of this initiative and its potential expansion to other underserved regions.”

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