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In Ho Chi Minh City, swimming classes ensure students’ fitness, develop talents

Thursday, November 19, 2015, 11:23 GMT+7

Third-graders and their parents in a district in Ho Chi Minh City have benefited hugely from swimming courses, which are part of a program to minimize deaths from drowning.

The program, initiated by the municipal People’s Committee last year, aims to arm K-12 students, particularly those in outlying districts crisscrossed with waterways, with swimming skills and reduce drownings.

Every morning since last month, the swimming pool at the Go Vap District Culture Center has been a hive of activity.

Around 100 third-graders from local schools are being taken to the pool on buses launched by the district government and accompanied by their own teachers.

One day, many of the students, wearing variously colored swimsuits, jumped into pools of different depths depending on their skill level, just like fish taking to the water, after proper warm-up routines.

Most of them frolicked with one another in the clear water.

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Some third-graders practice maneuvers on the pool edge. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Coach Le Quang Vinh said the majority of young students enjoy having fun in the water along with their peers, which has better acquainted them with lessons.

Only a few frail kids who shy away from the water need longer time, as well as private coaching, to adapt.

After four or five sessions, most students can blow bubbles in the water and perform basic maneuvers quite well, Vinh added.

Tran Minh Quan, another coach, said that after completing eight sessions in a month, most students will know how to breathe in the water and stay afloat without buoys, boosting their chance of survival while waiting for help in case of an accident.

The trainers usually spot one or two outstanding students in each batch, and inform their schools and parents of their innate gift, which may be further developed if they join swimming teams at their schools.

Bui Ngoc Thanh, head of Go Vap’s Culture Center Swimming Pool, revealed that the facility currently offers courses to local third-graders before they expand the model to all K-12 students in the district.

“With parents’ consent, we would be delighted to provide advanced coaching for gifted students, who may later grow into future versions of [Vietnamese star swimmer] Nguyen Thi Anh Vien,” he added.

Vien, 19, is considered a rising star in Vietnam, as she has won multiple gold medals at Southeast Asian and international swimming competitions.

According to Ho Mong Diep, Thanh’s deputy, the program to incorporate swimming into the school curriculum across Go Vap has been in place since 2014.

To date, 2,549 elementary students have passed the courses.

Another 2,400 students from eight elementary schools are expected to complete such courses by the end of this year, Diep noted.

The swimming classes have also eased parents’ concerns as to their children’s physical robustness and survival skills in case of water emergencies.

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Gifted learners can have their buoys removed after eight swimming sessions. Photo: Tuoi Tre

“The classes have helped kids become fitter and more dynamic while alleviating their parents’ worries,” Nguyen Gia Cu said on his son’s end-of-course test day.

He added that his son’s health, once prone to ailments induced by climatic conditions and air pollution, has noticeably improved after taking the swimming classes.

Cu’s eldest son, now a fourth-grader, also joined the swimming classes last year.

The boy, who swims as skillfully as an otter, still regularly practices at the pool.

“Some 1,000 kids drown each year. Now that my two sons both boast adequate swimming skills, I’m hugely reassured that they are considerably more likely to escape with their life if they unfortunately fall into water,” he stressed.

Nguyen Ba Thuy, another parent, was concerned if his slightly-built, underweight son could make it through his end-of-course test.

He heaved a sigh of relief seeing his son adeptly taking to the “blue track” without a buoy.

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