Over 60 children enrolled in the initial stage of the program
Simba FrenchSend an emailMay 18, 2022 695 3 minute readFacebookTwitterLinkedInShare via Email
In an effort to ensure that more persons in The Bahamas know how to swim, the Atlantis Resort got its school swim program officially underway for their employees’ children at the Beach Towers pool on the resort property yesterday.
In a six-week program, a little over 60 children learnt to do what only about 10 percent of Bahamians know how to do, according to surveys – swim. This is the first stage of the program and Atlantis will look to offer lessons to the larger community at some point.
Vice President of Public Affairs and Special Projects at the resort, Viana Gardiner, assisted in getting this initiative off the ground.
“Atlantis has taken a decision that it wanted to give back to the community in light of the fact that, statistics say that only 10 percent of Bahamians know how to swim, and then every summer you hear a very sad story of someone passing away, a child or an adult passing away because of drowning. So, what we wanted to do was to use our skills which are all things aquatic and provide swim lessons,” Gardiner said.
The children will be learning to swim on Tuesdays and Thursdays for six weeks. The combined classes have 63 children enrolled.
President of the Bahamas Aquatic Federation Algernon Cargill was at the pool and commended the resort for taking up such an initiative.
“Bahamas Aquatics is the sole governing body for all aquatic sports in The Bahamas, and we are happy that Atlantis reached out to us to advise that they were starting this ‘Learn to Swim’ program for their employees’ children. Seeing that roughly 10 percent of all Bahamians can swim, we thought it was a great opportunity not only to teach someone a life skill, but to build some strong entrants for our swimming program in The Bahamas,” Cargill said.
Gardiner added that they will be teaching the children basic life saving lessons in case they have a need to use it such as if they fall into a pool accidentally, they will know to remain calm and save themselves.
“We decided to run the program for the children of our staff members,” Gardiner said. “There was a lot of discussions about going into the wider community, but we have an extremely large staff base and their children need it as well so we decided to start at home with our children. Once this pilot program proves successful, then what we’re going to do is run the program again later in the year or in other years, and just see how many children we’re able to assist.”
Cargill is hoping that once the children learn to swim they can join one of the numerous clubs that are a part of the federation.
“What we are excited about is this program and similar programs being feeder programs for the federation,” Cargill said. “We have several clubs here, while they have their own learn to swim programs, while on property, the Atlantis is teaching their employees’ children to swim. The next step obviously is learn their survival skills and be able to get into a swim club and that is why we are here today to support the swim program because it is part of our mandate. Secondly, we want to ensure that these swimmers, once they learn how to swim, they continue their career and hopefully they can be at the CARIFTA level and other competitive levels.”
One of the instructors of the swim program is Jerome Wright. He said he is happy to be giving back.
“What we are basically doing is starting off with the infancy stage of teaching persons how to swim. Some of the kids are a little more advanced than we thought and that is a plus. We work with them and they follow instructions really well so this is a good bunch of children to work with,” Wright said.
Former national team swimmer Laura Morley was happy to be at the pool supporting the program. She saw the excitement of the children.
“I remember when I first started swimming and my excitement in the water, so, just to see these kids’ excitement to get in the water and learn how to swim and play around, it’s exciting. We need to teach kids how to swim from a younger age,” Morley said.
Also, there to show his support was national team swimmer Kohen Kerr.
“I think it’s a very good thing for us to start in The Bahamas,” Kerr said. “Swimming is known as a very high-class sport with which I disagree with. I feel that everyone should be more involved in the sport.”
Kerr spoke about how swimming has helped him travel to countries such as China, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Colombia. He also went off to college on a scholarship because of swimming. The program is expected to grow by leaps and bounds in the coming months.