Grassroots Swimming Programme unearthing talented youngsters
Members of the Biabou group showing their appreciation for the programme last Saturday at the Shrewsbury Aquatic Centre
May 26, 2023

Grassroots Swimming Programme unearthing talented youngsters

The Grassroots Swimming Programme, which gives opportunities to young people throughout communities in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to learn to swim as a life skill continues to unearth talent.

The St Vincent and the Grenadines Swimming Federation (SVGSF), for the past three months has facilitated another phase of the programme, involving the Lazarus Foundation, the Biabou Group and the Liberty Lodge Boys Training Centre.

More than 50 children, from as young as age 4, were exposed to the programme.

Swim coach, Kyle Dougan

Chaperone of the Lazarus Foundation group, Ideisha Jackson told SEARCHLIGHT she was pleased that they youngsters under her care had shown progress over the period.

“Most of the children had never had the experience of learning to swim. Basically, learning the fundamentals of Swimming were key and getting them comfortable in the water, however, they are now more comfortable in the water; some of them are actually swimming”, Jackson said.

Held at Indian Bay on Saturday mornings under the guidance of coach Gary John, Jackson’s group comprised 19 children between the ages of 4 and 14, drawn from the communities of Sion Hill and Pole Yard.

Jackson revealed that the programme went beyond the swimming lessons.

“We were allotted funds to purchase swimwear, towels, but another parent who saw us on the beach… actually purchased goggles for the children, which helped immensely with getting the children even more adept,” Jackson noted.

She said through the SVGSF, the participants were taken by bus to and from Indian Bay, and were provided with a meal for the duration of the programme.

Summing up the experience, Jackson said “It is important for me as an individual living on an island to make sure than many of our children learn to swim and not scared of the sea water”.

She is hopeful that parents and guardians will continue to assist their children and wards to improve their swimming skills.

Meanwhile swim coach, Kyle Dougan who was responsible for the sessions at the Shrewsbury Aquatic Centre, also lauded the commitment of the SVGSF.

“ It is fantastic that the Swimming Federation is continuing to reach out to the communities, giving them the opportunity to learn the basics of swimming which is extremely important and, hopefully, we can see some of them getting involved in competitive swimming, “ Dougan said.

He believes from the talent on show, some of the participants can move on to become competitive swimmers.

“ I have seen quite a few young boys and girls with potential, and doing programmes like this gives up the opportunity to see what is happening and surely some can move on to compete”, he pointed out. Chaperone of the Biabou Group, Aphene John, joined Dougan in highlighting the importance of the programme.

“Some of them are able to do a 25 metre freestyle non-stop, while some have started to get in the breaststroke and other strokes”, John related.

John is hopeful that some of the new talent will further develop their skills.