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Making a splash in Vietnam

Wednesday, July 06, 2016, 10:07 GMT+7

The timing couldn’t be more perfect. As Da Nang City announced a program to put all students into swimming classes by 2017, Surf Life Saving Vietnam is hosting an event with the Da Nang Furama Junior Nippers for a visiting group of Australian Junior Lifesavers from the 2nd to the 10th of July at An Bang beach near Hoi An.

The Furama Resort in Da Nang has been involved with Royal Surf Life Saving Australia for a long time and now, Surf Life Saving Vietnam. Their newest goal is to start a ‘Nippers club’ with the guidance of the Da Nang Beach Surf Life Saving Club.

‘Nippers’ is an Australian term meaning young children and Australia along with other countries with significant coastlines and beaches have hundreds of junior lifesaving clubs for youngsters to learn about lifesaving, get new skills both in and out of the water, gain confidence and have fun at the beach in a safe way.

While both Da Nang’s plan and the Junior Lifesavers visit are not actually connected, it’s an excellent opportunity to promote safety in and around the water and support the ambition to start a Da Nang ‘Nippers club.’ It’s a chance to pass on skills to locals and for all kids, regardless of their origins, to learn and have fun at the same time.

Da Nang can again lay a solid claim to ‘the most progressive city’ by ambitiously announcing swimming classes for all school students by 2017. It’s a fantastic step in the right direction. We all know too well the daily drownings that occur in places far from the beach in rural areas where training, swimming teachers and pools are scarce.

A surf life-saving club and/or swimming clubs are the natural progression from school swimming lessons to keep kids involved well into their adult lives. There’s no negative side – just a steady upward trend in knowledge, skills, confidence and most importantly, making swimming a normal, safer experience for everyone in this country.

There are other benefits too. The government hopes that sports programs like this will enable Vietnam’s children to become taller, bigger, stronger and healthier. Swimming is one path to that goal. It’s also great for kids with asthmatic conditions because swimming strengthens their lungs and is a low impact activity that shouldn’t affect their joints or back later in life.

The social benefits are important too – more confidence and improved mental function can result from swimming as it a stress-relieving activity. Above all, understanding water, the risks and what to do safely are skills that can be passed on by generations until hopefully one day; Vietnam’s young drowning tragedies become a thing of the past. It also might produce a new generation of sportsmen and women in competitive swimming and related sports such as triathlons, and boost Vietnam’s dreams of winning at international level.

There are many other organizations in Vietnam also teaching swimming such as Swim Vietnam. You can check out Surf Life Saving Vietnam on Facebook. Let your friends know and find out more.

One thing is certain – children who learn to swim well will live on to teach their children the same skills. Not a bad idea, is it?

Stivi Cooke


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