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Swimming to be the national priority sport in the Cayman Islands

Community Voice 22 May, 2024 Follow News

Swimming to be the national priority sport in the Cayman Islands

I wish to address the recent article in the Compass, which stated that swimming “is to be the priority national sport of the Cayman Islands.”

First and foremost, I want to make it clear that I hold the position of the president of netball, one of the sports that the Ministry of Sport has focused on. Additionally, I have served as the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Sports with Hon. Mckeeva. During the emphasis on sports, technical directors were recruited, and coaches for schools and the community were hired. I am the former vice president who developed the constitution and founded the Cayman Islands Athletic Association  in the Cayman Islands. I also sat on the Cayman Islands Sports Committee and represented Cayman sports in Luzerane and Namibia at the Olympic Meeting.

Back in 1982, as an Education Officer, I was not just responsible for sports in schools, but deeply involved. I made sure that sports in Education were placed in its competitive lists table, including soccer, basketball, cricket, netball, and swimming. I hired a qualified officer to handle sports in Education at that time. When I joined the education department, the only sport they led was Sports Day. I was not just an observer, but an active participant in most of the sports in the Cayman Islands. I strongly believe that a strong mind requires a strong body, and sports  is a testament to that belief.

We owe gratitude to the Lions for championing the cause of establishing a swimming pool. Brac schools heavily promoted swimming, and it proved to be quite popular and successful.

During my time in Education, it was evident that swimming at the competitive level was enjoyed more by children from wealthier backgrounds. There were logistical challenges, such as children from Northside having to spend an entire day away from their academics to come to GT, and girls from public schools encountering issues with their hair after swimming. It was clear that the focus was not on the public schools when it came to swimming. As officers, we established the expectation that every child should learn to swim by the age of ten and upon leaving primary school.

In 1990, while serving as the Redbay Primary New School building chair, a 25-meter swimming pool was added to the design to make it accessible to the Eastern district. Surprisingly, I was instructed to remove it, as it was perceived that I was building a school for white children.

It was disheartening to witness some of my supervisors viewing swimming as something other than a skill to be taught in public schools. Despite this, some dedicated teachers organized opportunities for public school children to learn to swim. At that time, the Learn to Swim program was always organized by schools and not the swimming association.

Swimming should be a mandatory skill taught to everyone in the Cayman Islands. While the swimming association is responsible for identifying talent from all public schools and developing them competitively, the responsibility of learning to swim should not solely rest on the association. It is the collective duty of the community, the government, and schools to ensure that every child leaves primary school equipped with this essential life skill.

Just imagine if swimming became the national priority life sport in the Cayman Islands. This is a dream and a vision that can be realized collectively. I challenge those in power to construct proper swimming pools in each school or district and employ qualified teachers.

Let’s make it clear that a life skill like swimming should not be left solely to an organization focused solely on competition but should be embraced by our entire community.

The community and the government must work together to ensure that this life skill is taught. The importance of swimming as a life skill and a competitive sport cannot be overstated, and it is our collective responsibility to make it accessible to all.

However, we must not overlook the other competitive team sports that also put Cayman on the map.

Lucille Seymour, MBE, BEM, JP

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