By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
BAHAMAS Swimming Federation president Algernon Cargill wants a national programme to teach people how to swim, saying government research shows fewer than 10 percent of Bahamians can swim to save their lives.
Six locals have drowned this month. Many of them have been young, including 15, 16 and 19-year-old men.
That is the most Mr Cargill can recall drowning in such a small period of time.
“This has never happened before,” he said. “My son went to Cornell University and for him to graduate and get a diploma he had to be able to swim to both ends of the pool. Same thing with Columbia University, you have to be able to swim. If universities could do it, it should trickle down to high school as a skill you have to have. We need to take it seriously.”
He added: “We have an initiative organized by Swift Swimming where they teach primary school students from several public schools how to swim for free and this has been going on for seven, eight years, but overall there is a concern that more residents don’t know how to swim, particularly because we’re a nation surrounded by water?” People can learn to swim to save their lives while in elementary school but Mr Cargill said existing programmes are a “drop in the bucket” in terms of how many youth they cover.
“There is a limited amount of pools, limited amount of resources and swimming, unfortunately, has this stigma of being an elitist sport and is a lot more difficult to implement than track and field where you could just go and run outside so a lot more resources are necessary but we do have an opportunity to reduce this factor,” he said.
His organisation, he added, would be ready to facilitate an expanded swimming programme.
“We are a governing body for aquatics sports but we would be willing to partner with the Ministry of Education or any other agency that wants to sponsor a learning programme,” he said.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources to do it.”