FINA, the International Swimming Federation, has recognized that almost four hundred people drown on a yearly basis and has taken steps to sensitize its member countries through an initiative called Swim for Life.
This is according to National Sports Council swim coach, Adele Price, who recently returned home from Thailand where the course, the first of its kind, was held.
Price was the lone representative from Barbados in what was her first ever training opportunity with the federation that came through the Barbados Amateur Swimming Association. However she is no stranger to travelling as a coach having been to the World Games in Los Angeles with the Special Olympics Barbados team in 2015.
With a few drowning incidents occurring already this year, Price explained that the initiative sought to look at swimming inclusively and in such a way that everybody has the requisite skills in order to save themselves.
“Swimming is the only sport that has two primary mandates or two primary concerns, one is that of maintaining physical fitness just general health and keeping people moving and the other is swimming as a lifesaving skill. So to that extent, FINA has now recognized almost four hundred thousand people drown every year and that is more than the population of Barbados. This is worldwide but they have decided that they should have take some responsibility for mitigating the statistic and they are now looking at a different priority. So instead of swimming for the competitive or sporting aspect, you are now going to be swimming as a self survival life saving skill,” she told Barbados TODAY.
A certified lifeguard for 11 years before venturing into being a full time swim coach with the sports council where she works Monday to Friday from 9.a.m. to 3.p.m. at the Aquatic Centre in Wildey, Price said she was very happy to see this was the direction FINA was going with the hope that various Governments including Barbados recognized that one person drowning was one too many.
“It was the first conference, the first step, so they are going to be rolling out new curriculum and a new priority for swim coaches. All swim classes should now start with a focus on water safety, being safe in the aquatic environment first and then swim technique and the efficiency of swimming with technique and all that will be two different initiatives, two different priorities…. All children should have the opportunity to learn to swim if only up to the level of being able to save themselves,” she explained.
There was a total of 50 swim coaches from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas and Australia, which are the five respective continents that make up the majority of FINA member body. There were five Caribbean representatives under the Americas including Barbados, St Lucia, St Vincent, Antigua and Barbuda and Bahamas.
Speaking about what the opportunity meant for her, Price said: “There was an opportunity to gain knowledge from how other countries administer their swim programmes and I must say Barbados was ahead in that people were pretty envious when they saw that we have a swim programme that is sanctioned and supported by our Government. Because a lot of swimming worldwide happens only for people who are in a certain income bracket, whose parents can afford and while ours is not perfect there is still an avenue for children who come from the lower end of society. They still have an opportunity to swim via their school programme and the National Sports Council’s swim programme. So to that extent people were like ‘wow! So good you have your Government’s blessing’.”