NATIONAL LEARN TO SWIM WEEK
Written by George Grant on April 9, 2018
The recent drowning of a four-year-old boy on Grand Anse beach has called attention to the importance of water safety, careful attention to your children, and the need for our nation to know how to swim.
The National Learn to swim week, held April 3rd -7th and offering free swim lessons, culminated in a total of over 800 individuals being taught to swim last week. Participants had the option of taking up to five lessons over the course of five days and most all were found to be “water safe” and moving through the water by the end of the week. Quite a few mothers bringing their children also took lessons. Overall, there were fifteen locations throughout Grenada, including Carriacou and Petite Martinique and you may have seen the yellow flags spotted all over the island noting the locations where you could take lessons. For the second year in a row, the Grenville location (the long wall in Soubise) brought in the highest number of participants with 120 new swimmers. A new fun site was added at Annadale Falls and although participants said it was cold, they stayed in for the entire hour during their lessons.
The National Learn to Swim Week, now in its fourth year with Republic Bank as its major sponsor, is an initiative to offer free swim lessons the week after Easter and has taught almost 3,000 children and adults to swim in those four years. This year, the event had over 150 swim instructors teaching, including 30 volunteers from overseas who came to Grenada to help.
Spearheaded by Grenada Youth Adventurers (GYA), the National Learn to Swim Week is part of a larger program called “Get Grenada Swimming”. Their goal is to teach 8,000 children to swim by 2021. (This is half of the population of children in Grenada between the ages of 5-14). Deb Eastwood, Director of GYA, states, “If we can teach half of our children to swim, they will teach their brothers and sisters and grow up teaching their children. We could be the first country to break the Caribbean culture of “fear of swimming.” Eastwood estimates 90% of our nation does not know how to swim.
“Get Grenada Swimming” has the following programs now in effect, besides the National Learn to Swim Week to achieve their goal of teaching 8,000 children.
 An additional “Learn to Swim Week” the week after children get out of school for the summer. This year will be held July 9-13th and again includes five days of lessons. It will be held in the mornings from 9 am – 12 noon.
 Opening more locations for free weekly swim lessons on Saturdays. Currently, there are lessons offered in front of Umbrellas in Grand Anse, the Go Cool Steps in Grand Mall, Grenada Marine in Corinth, Lumbadive in Carriacou, Bathway, Sauteurs, and Waltham Beach in St. Marks. Most of these locations teach from 9 am – 11 am each Saturday. The plan is to have 12 locations by the year 2021.
 Swim clubs are being formed in various schools and currently 10 schools are piloting programs.
Deb Eastwood extends her heartfelt gratitude to Republic Bank and so many individuals and businesses who contributed to make the week happen and to the many volunteers who gave so many hours in teaching the lessons.
If you are interested in learning to swim, being an instructor, forming a school club or having your child learn to swim, please feel free to contact her at 404-5237 or [email protected]