In supporting elite athletes and avid swimmers to achieve their goals in and out of the water, Speedo has developed a specific set of skills and specialities, which can be diversified to support and promote water safety worldwide.
In supporting elite athletes and avid swimmers to achieve their goals in and out of the water, Speedo has developed a specific set of skills and specialities, which can be diversified to support and promote water safety worldwide. Just one of the groups making waves in this area is Safety When It Matters (SWIM Cambodia), a new charity committed to preventing drowning accidents in Cambodia.
Why does it matter? In Cambodia, one child dies from drowning every four hours – on average, six children die every day. And studies have shown that 95 per cent of children over the age of four who died from drowning couldn't swim 25 metres. In other words, those deaths could have been – and should be – prevented.
“No one was there to rescue him and no one was able to perform CPR.”
“We want to make water safe and fun for children living in Cambodia,” declares Conrad Foote, founder trustee at SWIM Cambodia. Foote was working with an NGO in Cambodia when he met a child named Ravi. Two years later, he says, “Ravi was playing in the water with his friends just close to where he lived when he drowned and died. Ravi could not swim, no one [was there] to rescue him and no one was able to perform CPR.”
SWIM Cambodia's aim is to stop child drowning in Cambodia. In an effort to achieve these goals, SWIM Cambodia is training and equipping Cambodian teachers to educate children and communities in the pillars of water safety, safe rescue and – crucially – resuscitation skills. CPR skills are invaluable when it comes to water safety; in Cambodia, “when a child dies and has stopped breathing, the traditional method is to hold the child upside down and shake the body,” says Foote. “This method is ineffective compared to CPR.”
Furthermore, local communities have expressed a need for safe, shallow swimming areas for children – and SWIM Cambodia has identified a significant lack of safeguards, at least in terms of supervision and patrol.
“We have only heard of two Cambodian lifeguards in the whole of [the country],” says Foote, stating that the team at SWIM Cambodia hopes “to inspire those we teach to become... leaders in Cambodian water safety.”
Last year, with the support of Speedo, SWIM Cambodia taught 30 children and 27 adult caregivers the basic tenets of water safety, in a school in Pursat province. This year, SWIM Cambodia will begin by training teachers from iCAN British International School and volunteers from Youth Star, before moving on to educating children and families in Phnom Penh. From there, they will move to communities in rural settings in Cambodia.
It's not all about what goes on in the water, though. “As well as saving lives, we hope to improve the quality of life for people living in Cambodia,” says Foote. “Through our programme, we will be encouraging leadership and developing teaching skills... [which will] be an employability factor for people getting paid employment in the areas of drowning prevention and swimming.”
At Speedo, we know that everyone has a basic right to access water – but we want water to be a source of fun and of sport too, as we know it can be. SWIM Cambodia is working to make the water safe and fun for those who live there, by getting behind the same vision and sharing the water safety message with those around you, together we can make the world a safer place.