Kochi: ‘Swim to stay alive and stay fit’ is the slogan fast catching up among the people of Kerala which has been witnessing an increasing trend of drowning accidents and deaths.
Many educational institutions and clubs in the state have started swimming classes for children and grown-ups. Experts stress the need for including swimming as part of the school curriculum, especially in schools in Kochi which has numerous islands surrounded by water bodies.
Children, who are fast learners, need around 10 days to master the life-saving skill.
Many private schools in Ernakulam are now offering swimming lessons as part of curriculum. “Knowing swimming alone will not help in saving lives. Special training in first aid and rescue manoeuvres should be practised,” said Josey Joseph, Asian silver medallist in swimming and coach at Assisi Vidyanikethan, Kakkanad.
Swimming is not just a life-skill alone, it has numerous health benefits too. “Kids with autism show great motor skill improvement after attending swimming classes,” added Josey, who offers training to around eight students afflicted with the illness.
According to K.J. Sohan, former mayor and president of the Cochin Aquatic Club in Fort Kochi, lack of public pools is a major hurdle as people cannot afford the exorbitant fees of private pools. “The corporation’s proposed community pool project at the Veli ground is yet to take off though the planning with blueprints is complete,” he said.
The fire and rescue services department also has a scheme to provide swimming coaching in panchayat ponds to students from government schools. “If clean and safe ponds are available in Kochi, the initiative can be implemented here as well,” said an official with the department.
At Vijayaraghavakulam, a pond located at Kandanad in Chottanikkara panchayat, a group of youngsters has been giving swimming lessons to kids and grown-ups for three years. They began teaching swimming as a community initiative to clean up the pond. “Almost 200 children learnt swimming. We are trying to get the district sports council to issue certificates to the students so that they can apply for grace marks,” said K. K. Rajendran, one of the instructors....