By Christopher Tobutt
One of Cayman’s amazing wonders - a travelling swimming pool - has been visiting Cayman’s primary schools teaching kids to swim to make them safe if they accidentally fall into the water. Dara Flowers Burke, of the Flowers Group which has spearheaded the Swim Free program was talking to excited parents and their children at the Joanna Clarke Primary School in Savannah, before they all went to see the wonderful pool for themselves.
“The Swim Free programme is a charity programme that Flowers Group, DMS, and Foster Group along with the Department of Education has sponsored. We are coming together to teach every Child in the public primary schools in the Cayman Islands, reception through Year 2, how to swim 10 feet to safety,” she said.
“The programme lasts 10 days in every school. So far, we’ve been to East End Primary, Theoline L. McCoy, Edna Moyle, and now we’re here at Joanna Clarke, so we’ve got close to 200 kids on our island water safe. Many of these are kids who, on Day 1, were afraid to put their face in the water. The goal is to create water safety for children. Most children drown within ten feet of safety, so if we can teach children how to swim ten feet to safety, we can save lives.”
The unique swimming-pool was designed and made on-island: “My dad Frank Flowers Sr. and my brother, Frank Flowers Jr. along with their team designed it. It is the first of its kind in the world as I understand it,” Dara said.
Parents were taking turns going up the steps to view the marvelous pool - that is just like a regular swimming pool, but on wheels. “This is really amazing! Swimming classes are so expensive, and not everybody can afford that, so this is a really a good thing,” said Claudia, one of the moms who had come to see the pool with her son, six-year-old Sebastian. “Sebastian can swim, but he hasn’t learned to tread water so my biggest thing is for him to be able to, so he can take a break if he needs to, and then swim on. “I think it’s really cool,” Sebastian said.
Another mom, Marvetta said: “This is very important to Cayman, because this island is surrounded by water and when we had Hurricane Ivan, all the homes were flooded, so it is very important that the child can swim. Also, children are going to different parties and of course if the child can’t swim and they accidentally fall in the pool they will be in danger.”
A dad, Shawn Ebanks commented: “I think this pool on wheels is a great idea, bringing the pool to the kids and giving kids that have never been in the water, and have fears of being in the water, a chance to become comfortable. It’s a unique experience I know of a few of my colleagues in the past that always wanted to do swimming, and I know they would have had better lives if they had had this opportunity, so I think it is a wonderful thing and I commend the Flowers team for it.
Coach Jeff Wiseman, who is the Programme Director for Swim Free was showing some of the kids and their parents the pool. “This is a partnership between Swim Free and the Department of Education. It is important that every single Caymanian has the right to learn to swim, especially for people who live on an island. We want to reduce the number of drownings - there are 8 to 10 a year and one is already too many. We are working to have this as a mandatory part of the curriculum. When we have finished, we will have worked with over 1000 kids in the school year.”