Vacation time is here once again. And between now and April 16 primary and secondary school students across Barbados will be at home looking for interesting things to do.
As a result it is expected that beaches will be packed with adventurous, excited young people. Head of the Barbados Life Service, Dave Bascombe, who advised the young ones to be careful as they enjoyed themselves at the beaches this holiday, told Barbados TODAY that to prevent the loss of life they were beefing up lifeguards at the heavily used beaches.
These included Enterprise in Christ Church, Grave’s End/Peebles, Brandon’s and Brown’s Beach in St. Michael as well as Folkstone in St. James and Heywoods in St. Peter.
He also encouraged parents that as a preventative measure, they should enroll their children in swimming classes, a position held by Kerwin Delpeche, who years ago nearly drowned while he and friends were playing in the sea.
He, however, went further by stating that he believed swimming lessons should be mandatory for all primary school students. Supporting this recommendation was swimming coach at the National Sports Council, Adele Price. Speaking to this newspaper via telephone this afternoon, she said she absolutely believed it should be mandatory. At present, swimming classes are offered at the primary schools and while the majority of students take advantage them, there were some parents who did not permit their children to participate.
She said there were many benefits to learning how to swim and not only should children be able to utilise those benefits but as well parents, many of who could not themselves swim.
“I would say less than 50 per cent of Barbadians can swim, but people must realise it is never too late to learn. Children, particularly young children, do not go to the beach themselves, and you as the adult too needs to know how to swim.
“A child out of hand’s reach is too far away and when you go to the beach you should feel comfortable that if a high wave comes and takes you off your feet you won’t panic.
“I think swimming is a life skill. The same way we teach our children how to count money so that someone doesn’t cheat them, or how we teach them to read and write, swimming should also be seen as important. Just the knowledge of what to do around an aquatic environment is necessary because some people drown in water that they can stand in so it is just a case of knowing what to do. General water orientation would help that,” she said.
Learning to swim not only saves lives, but also it gives people an opportunity to better appreciate what so many tourist come to the island to enjoy, Price said as she also noted it is a good exercise and socialising tool.
The NSC offers swimming camps during the summer while the lifeguard service currently offers a free eight weeks water safety and life safety course to Barbadians ages 10 to 99. The programme is called Operation SOS: Save Our Selves, and it was also offered during the summer at the Brandon’s beach in St. Michael. (KC)††