Summer is approaching, and for most children and adults alike, it means fun in the water. However, the danger of drowning is also a reality. The Adopt a Swimmer Programme at Plettenberg Bay in the Southern Cape, aims to empower underprivileged children by teaching them pool proficiency.
The “Greener Surfer” John McCarthy, this week taught the children more about swimming, surfing and the sea.
Being able to swim is a life-skill everyone needs but for many, swimming lessons are unaffordable.
Plett resident and swimming coach, Louise Auersperg, says about 80% of the children in her town cannot swim and she set out to change that through the Adopt a Swimmer Programme.
It entails individuals and organisations adopting and sponsoring underprivileged children’s swimming lessons.
“I have always thought swimming is a luxury for most people and learning to swim is a luxury. So, I felt it in my heart to give everybody in Plett the opportunity to swim. We have lots of drownings all over SA. In Plett, we are surrounded by dams, the sea and swimming pools. So, it’s important and it’s a life-skill.”
Durbanite and Founder of the Greener Surfer organisation, John McCarthy, volunteered to teach the children breath control and swimming underwater. He says it is an inherent ability that everyone is capable of.
“Most human beings that don’t spend time in water automatically panic when their head goes underwater. We have to rewire that process and what happens is that as the kids realise they are not going to die, they are very capable of being underwater and learn to manage that process. So their confidence builds.”
For 15-year-old Keagan Till, these swimming lessons have a much more profound meaning. He was recently diagnosed with lung and brain cancer.
“From the radiation and chemo, my lungs have taken quite a toll and have quite a lot of scar tissue; and just through the swimming, giving my lungs exercise and always keeping active in the pool, definitely helps my whole treatment process.”
McCarthy also designs and manufactures non-toxic, natural surf boards. He donated two of these to be auctioned off at the Plett Wine and Bubbly Festival.
Proceeds will be donated to the Adopt a Swimmer programme.