Nov 2019 2nd Edition

Lessons make kids water-wise

Written by Galoome Shopane

Lerato Ramatsa of Bloemfontein is teaching children water safety and how to swim to reduce their risk of drowning.

Concerned about the number of child drownings in Thaba Nchu and Botshabelo, Ramatsa established Deep Water Aquatics Swimming Lessons in 2010. She started giving free lessons to children from previously disadvantaged backgrounds in 2017.

She teaches 20 children from the age of eight at a swimming pool in Bloemfontein.

“I have a strong desire to see these children participating highly in the sport and being world class swimmers. There needs to be equal opportunities for children, regardless of their backgrounds, to participate in swimming,” said Ramatsa.

Parents also attend the classes which has had a positive impact on the children’s lives by improving their confidence and their relationships with their parents.

 Deep Water Aquatics Swimming Lessons hosted a community outreach programme in Botshabelo during the Easter holidays called Pool Splash. More than 300 children learnt about water safety and how to swim.

Ramatsa is passionate about sport and transformation. “The biggest challenge is transformation. Remember, swimming is predominately a white sport and the participation of black kids is minimal, hence we have to have the capacity building programmes and many outreach programmes.”

“Our plan is to have as many black people as possible participating in the sport without fear or favour. We want to create swimming champions that come from Mangaung. And we also want our people to learn how to swim as a lifesaving skill,” added Ramatsa.

Tips to prevent drowning

  • Never leave children in or by the pool unsupervised.
  • Parents must pay attention when children are in a pool
  • Warn children against swimming in filthy water that could be a health hazard.
  • Warn children to avoid pool drains.
  • Empty portable pools when not in use.
  • Don’t let children swim at night.
  • Don’t let children eat chewing gum while in a pool.
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