By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
AFTER spending the past 15 years teaching primary school students the basic skills in swimming, the Let’s Swim Bahamas programme will provide a private premiere documentary on their progress made so far.
On Tuesday at 6pm at the University of the Bahamas, the husband and wife team of Andy and Nancy Knowles will show the LSB documentary to provide more awareness of the importance of learning how to swim.
“When we started this programme 15 years ago, we only got started with one school, but now we have worked with over 10 schools,” said Andy Knowles, who along with Nancy, have been responsible for providing an opportunity for countless young people to learn to swim.
The duo were previously responsible for the formation of Swift Swimming, one of the most successful clubs in the Bahamas Aquatics, formerly the Bahamas Swimming Federation, which gave rise to some of the top swimmers in the country, including Olympians Jeremy Knowles and Allan Murray.
The LSB programme got started in 2008 with students from the Thelma Gibson Primary School. The Knowles are now working with 10 primary schools with Sadie Curtis, Sandilands, Eva Hilton, TG Glover, Stephen Dillette, Woodcock, Albury Sayles, Adelaide and Gambier joining Thelma Gibson.
“We have been encouraged by the response, with each school willing to work with us, that includes principals, teachers and administration,” Andy Knowles said.
“Would like to see a better response from parents willing to sign their kids up for the learn to swim programme, we have averaged about 46 percent of the students taking advantage of the swimming.”
The programme was relaunched in March through June this year.
On June 23 at Baha Bay, LSB worked with Melissa Lockwood from Baha Mar and Olivia Daxon, principal of Thelma Gibson School and 55 children to participate in a worldwide swimming event.
Jeremy Knowles along with Baha Mar’s lifeguard, Linda Hall, assisted in the lesson plan.
“Once the lesson was over, the children and their families were able to spend the rest of the day at Baha Bay playing in the water park. This will definitely be a LSB annual event.
While they are based here in New Providence, the Knowles plan on expanding the programme throughout the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. But for now, they are content with what they have accomplished here so far.
“We are pleased with what we have been able to accomplish with the 10 schools, including the many thousands of students we have taught and the many tens of thousands of lessons we have taught,” Andy Knowles said.
As they move forward, coming out of the pandemic which forced the programme to be put on hold over the past two years, Andy Knowles said they are eager to resume the programme following the launch of the documentary next week.
Knowles said they intend to continue to improve their registration process to be quick, efficient, thorough, with emphasis on sticking to the deadline for registration. “We are now using our Facebook page to get the word out about signing up for the lessons and have had over 7000+ shares so far.
“With the financial help from our sponsor ATEOS, they hope to be able to print and distribute to all the Government Primary Schools throughout The Bahamas the 3rd edition of the Let’s Swim Bahamas Water Safety Colouring and Activity Book and Posters.
Eventually, they want to show two mini premiere documentaries for fund-raising and then air on ZNS TV for the general public.
With the assistance of the Defence Force, headed by Commodore Dr Raymond King, LSB would like to work out the details for using members of the Defence Force as coaches, especially for the South Beach Pool site.
And LSB will continue to work to add new sites and schools with the goal to have five sites and 18 schools (out of the 24 schools in New Providence) ready to start the programme in September 2023.
“We want to increase the percentage of kids who sign up and the number of schools we work with and the teaching all the grades from 1 to 6 and getting to have all 24 primary schools in NP on board,” he said.
With the Bahamas being an archipelago of islands, Andy Knowles said their goal is to get all Bahamians able to swim and enjoy the God-given beautiful seas surrounding us.
Today, Andy and Nancy head a LSB programme that receives tremendous help from students, parents, retired workers, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and many others who learn about LSB and the impact they can have by being a part of the programme.