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National Sea Rescue Institute on mission to teach 1 million kids to swim by 2024

NSRI rescue swimmers. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

NSRI rescue swimmers. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Sep 8, 2023


Cape Town - A nationwide campaign by the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) in South Africa to tackle drowning incidents is gaining momentum.

The campaign was launched in November last year, after a study into drowning incidents between 2016 and 2021 revealed that 1 477 South Africans, mostly young children, drown each year.

NSRI drowning prevention head Jill Fortuin said for the institute, teaching children how to stay safe around water was essential to reducing the burden of drownings.

Last month, the NSRI gave about 120 000 lessons across all nine provinces. Fortuin said that by next year, the organisation planned to teach 1 million children in the country how to swim.

“That was a huge achievement for our non-profit organisation. But the work does not stop there, as we are well on our way to achieving our target to reach 750 000 children by the end year.”

Alongside teaching children how to swim, the NSRI has continued working with its 39 instructors in the drowning prevention team to raise awareness of, among other lifesaving interventions, the dangers of water, what the public can do if someone gets into trouble, how to perform bystander CPR, and who to call for help.

“Since the project’s inception in 2006, we have reached well over 4 million people with these life-saving skills. At a cost of just R10 to teach a child to be water-safe, it is the support and generosity of thousands of individuals and partners who have made this achievement possible and will continue to help us strive to hit that one million lesson mark in 2024,” Fortuin said.

Meanwhile, in Cape Town, the City’s mayoral committee for community services and health continues to intensify its water safety initiatives by placing a strong focus on providing safer swimming spaces.

Community services and health Mayco member Patricia van der Ross said its efforts were guided by the municipality’s annual statistics on drownings.

According to the City, in the last summer season, officials recorded 19 fatal drownings and 27 non-fatal drownings.

“The City’s recreation and parks department remains committed to realising its vision of eliminating accidental drownings in Cape Town through partnerships, projects and co-ordinated action,” Van der Ross said.