With VND80 million (US$3,600) between them, three Vietnamese men in the central province of Quang Ngai have constructed three swimming pools of about 300 square meters each.
According to Pkdata, Inc., a Georgia-based market research and consulting firm on recreational water, normally an above-ground swimming pool of around 5.8 meters in diameter would cost more than $6,000.
But Tran Anh Tuan, an oil refinery engineer, Huynh Duc Linh, a physical education teacher, and Nguyen Van Phuong, a swimming coach, have built three pools with a little over half that money, turning their dream into a reality.
“Our main goal is to create safe swimming pools with building costs as low as possible,” Tuan, the brains behind the concept, said.
The trio came up with the idea after seeing students in the province drowned to death.
During April, nine sixth-graders from the province drowned while swimming in a local river.
Vietnam’s rate of child drowning is one of the highest in Asia.
A recent World Health Organization survey found that 32 children in Vietnam die from drowning every day, with the number of child drownings per year as high as 11,665.
“It’s a true delight for me when I see children happily playing in the water in safety,” Tuan said.
The 33-year-old engineer was inspired while on a mission to South Korea, where pools made of metal frames and tarpaulins are common.
“Despite the vague impression, I then sketched the structure and asked my colleagues to put their hands in,” Tuan recounted.
“I couldn’t figure it out when he told me the idea,” Linh, 31, said, adding that he was very happy when the construction succeeded.
“At first I thought that Tuan was joking as it costs billions of VND to build a pool, which is a serious business,” the physical education teacher added.
Affordable price, simple design, easy maintenance
The pools are comprised of a tarpaulin and a metal frame, tightened with paracords.
The first pool, built for two to four-year-olds, cost nearly VND3 million ($134.5), Tuan said, adding that they had made another one spanning over 200 square meters for secondary students to practice swimming in.
Currently, three swimming pools of its kind have been built at a total cost of VND80 million, serving hundreds of youngsters daily.
The pools’ design is simple and easy to maintain, and does not require cleaning agents. “The pools self-drain and refill themselves by loosening the paracords, which concrete pools cannot,” Tuan noted.
The three are willing to share the concept, including the design, to schools or individuals that are interested.
“I’d love to see schools nationwide apply the model, especially at a time when the government’s budget is insufficient to install pools in schools,” Tuan said.
“Aquatic sports are also suitable to play and practice in these pools without the worry of damage.”