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Sunday, August 3, 2014

islanders of Vanuatu to learn swimming .... Gold medalist from Suriname

Freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, medley – all events under Swimming competition – and do you remember - Anthony Conrad Nesty whose gold in Olympics was so unique.  Am surprised to read that in the first four Olympics, swimming competitions were not held in pools, but rather in open water (1896, the Mediterranean Sea; 1900, the Seine; 1904, an artificial lake; 1906, the Mediterranean). The 1904 Olympics' races were the only ones ever measured at yards, instead of the usual metres. – the popular perception is that ‘people from island Nations are better swimmers’.

swimming tadpoles - National Geographic photo

Vanuatu  is an island nation in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some 1,750 kilometres (1,090 mi) east of northern Australia.  The first Europeans to visit the islands were a Spanish expedition led by Portuguese navigator Fernandes de Queirós.  The Nation derives its name from the word vanua ("land" or "home”)  and the word tu ("stand"). Together the two words indicated the independent status of the new country.

Interesting to read that a  new pilot project in Vanuatu is teaching children valuable lifesaving and swimming skills for the very first time, in a bid to prevent drowning deaths. There are no records kept on just how many drownings occur each year in the Pacific country which is surrounded by water, made up by 83 islands. But several Australians who have volunteered in the country previously, trying to promote water safety, estimate water-related deaths make up as much as 40 per cent of all accidental deaths.

There are children who have died, they've drowned because they aren't able to swim. It is further stated that hospitals don't have records of the causes of deaths; the office for Birth, Deaths and Marriages doesn't either. They just don't get listed because a lot of Vanuatu people see drowning and water-based deaths as black magic, so they don't report them.  Boat travel is an essential part of life in Vanuatu - where many people travel over water daily - to visit other villages, tend to gardens or go to school on neighbouring islands. They do so at their own risk - many of the small fishing boats don't even carry lifejackets, and those that do are rarely used.  There have been reports of boats capsizing and some deaths occurring.  There is no known formal strategy to promote water nationally in Vanuatu, but now a three-month trial is offering structured swimming classes for children.

The youth over there is now being taught on how they could possibly keep themselves afloat if they're in deep water or if they were ever in a situation where they had to implement lifesaving skills. Like in any other developing Nation,  this project is running on a shoe-string budget – but to many this first step or first push in water will go a long way.
Anthony Conrad Nesty, is a former swimmer from Suriname who shot to fame with  lympic gold medal in the 100-metre butterfly event in 1988. At the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea, Nesty edged American favorite Matt Biondi by one one-hundredth of a second to win the 100-metre butterfly; he finished the event in 53.00 seconds and Biondi in 53.01. Nesty is the only Olympic medal winner from Suriname and after winning his Olympic gold medal, he was unbeaten in the 100-metre butterfly event for three years.

Suriname is a small country in the Atlantic coast of South America. Suriname was colonized by the English and the Dutch in the 17th century. At just under 165,000 km2 (64,000 sq mi), Suriname is the smallest sovereign state in South America.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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