Back in the day, when I was a kid, none of my friends had a swimming pool at home. At the age of 5, I was taught how to swim by a qualified swimming instructor on our family holidays in Durban. In those days most city schools had a 25yard pool and swimming was included in your weekly school curriculum. As time passed and families started having more spending power, home pools became more and more of a pre-requisite with weekends spent sun-tanning or braai-ing around the clear blue waters of a tadpole-shaped pool. An indirect, yet tragic, consequence of these new facilities was a dramatic increase in kids drowning – the net result was a boom in companies producing child-proof fencing.
In the late 80s I rented a house in Borrowdale for a few months- one Sunday we invited friends around for lunch by the pool- the adults were all supping the G&Ts whilst the kids were running wild around the garden – next minute I heard a small splash in the water right next to me – a child of about 3 had fallen into the water – I immediately jumped into the water – fully clothed – and recovered the poor girl from the bottom of the pool- all okay.
Over the last few weeks, however, I have heard of 2 tragic cases whereby young children have drowned in unprotected pools. When my family emigrated to Australia and rented a house with a pool they were mandated by law to call in a pool specialist (cost $100) to verify that the swimming area had a regulation type pool fence with an automatic swing back gate.
I have visited many homes in Harare where the owners have not been able to maintain the swimming pool in their recently acquired homes resulting in an unprotected big open hole half-filled with the last year’s rainfall – a deadly hazard when you have people (children and even adults) living there who have never been taught the basics of swimming.
Over the past few years, I have been in contact with Dennis Mauchaza (0712-717-672) – he has written extensively about drowning in Zimbabwe – both in rural rivers and city pools – he has asked me to help him raise awareness of this – He had identified a couple of big pools in the Mabelreign area that could, with a little TLC (+/- $10k), potentially be used by multiple schools in the area to teach school kids how to swim. It would probably only need something of the order of $10k to make this happen – is there anyone out there that would be willing to put their hand up to help make this happen?
Nowadays children being brought up in the low-density suburbs are being introduced to swimming before their first birthday. It is such a shame that folks with less disposable income are not able to have their kids taught how to swim. I have met up with Dennis on several occasions in the past and with a little financial backing from a reputable source we can, potentially, offer swimming lessons for something like 30 schools in the Mabelriegn and surrounding areas.
In the meantime, I suggest you seriously consider taking your youngsters to swimming lessons so that become drown-proof.
Ciao Mike G.