Vietnam’s top swimmer kick-starts swimming campaign for youth

Vietnamese swimming superstar Nguyen Thi Anh Vien has arrived in the central province of Quang Ngai to encourage young people to take swimming lessons in a campaign to prevent drowning

Nguyen Thi Anh Vien (in black) poses with students in the central province of Quang Ngai on December 28, 2016.

The campaign is run by the provincial People’s Committee to motivate local youths to sharpen their swimming skill in order to survive in the water.

Vien’s presence is intended to inflame a passion for swimming in young people in the province, an official of the Quang Ngai administration stated, adding that about 4,000 people across Vietnam drown each year.

One of the most tragic drownings happened on April 15 when nine six-graders at the local Nghia Ha Middle School lost their lives while swimming in a river.

Swimming is an essential skill for people to protect themselves, Vien said during an interview, expressing her hope that she could help young people acquire the skill through the campaign. 

Upon her arrival in Quang Ngai on Wednesday morning, the top swimmer met with local students and shared her personal story during their casual and friendly conversations.

Vien’s grandfather taught her how to swim when she was a little girl, the athlete said, adding she grew up in the countryside where there are many rivers and canals.

Swimming is an effective and protective skill for young people, Vien stated, asserting that true passions would help them become professional athletes.

Being a fan of Vien, Le Anh Kiet, an eighth-grader at Nguyen Nghiem Middle School, could not hide his excitement when meeting his idol in the flesh.

Kiet said that Vien’s story was very inspiring, before sharing that he himself had won a gold medal in a provincial swimming competition.

“Vien has inspired me to realize my dream of becoming an excellent swimmer,” the eighth-grader said.

According to Tran Phuoc Hai, vice-chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, the campaign is meaningful not only for Quang Ngai but also for the entire nation.

“Our society must take prompt action following many tragedies caused by drowning and Vien has done what is necessary,” Hai stated.

Born in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, Vien is among Southeast Asia’s best swimmers, winning eight gold medals and breaking eight records at the 28th SEA Games in Singapore in June 2015.

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