Environmental advocacy groups Save The Bays and Waterkeepers Bahamas today applauded government’s “important forward stroke” restoring and reviving the vast swimming complex known as South Beach Pools, urging officials now to go a step further and commit resources to a national learn-to-swim program. “Restoring the wonderful South Beach Pools facility is a great initiative,” said Save The Bays Chairman Joe Darville. “We urge officials to commit resources to using the pools for a massive learn-to-swim initiative. In the face of climate change with rising seas and stronger storms, knowing how to swim is no longer a matter of recreation. It can mean the difference between life and death. And every man, woman and child in this archipelagic nation should know — must know — how to swim.”
Darville revealed that Save the Bays, which also applauded government this week for passage of sweeping environmental protection legislation, had looked at assisting government by raising funds to restore the pools damaged by hurricane Matthew more than three years ago. “Other efforts, including weekly water quality monitoring in New Providence to make sure popular swam areas were safe, got in the way but the South Beach Pools project was still on our radar when suddenly we learned government had gotten the job done and we couldn’t be happier and we congratulate all connected with the project,” said Darville, noting that Waterkeepers Bahamas conducts the water quality monitoring exercise.
“But please, please do not think of these beautiful pools as merely a playground for recreation or a field for competitive sports. We will probably never know how many people were swept away by hurricane Dorian and drowned because they did not know how to swim and this is our chance to make sure that nothing like that ever happens again, no matter how strong a storm or tidal wave we have.” Darville, who was among the first in the region to be trained and certified in climate change leadership by Al Gore, said all evidence points to stronger storms.
“The Bahamas has never experienced a storm like Dorian before. But while we are still in the process of recovery, we have to face the reality that powerful storms like Dorian are likely to become the norm rather than the exception. Rising seas and warmer water temperatures create ideal conditions for more sudden onslaughts of violent weather and point to stronger and more dangerous climate crisis events in the future,” said Darville. “Now with these additional facilities, we have an opportunity to prepare our residents and equip everyone with the knowledge of swimming survival basics. “Save The Bays will pledge our support. We will enlist the help of trained volunteers and will help implement the international swim certification program that has benefitted nearly 15,000 trained individuals in Grand Bahama who learned to swim in the YMCA program.
“Please, let’s not wait until another Dorian sweeps through and takes innocent lives with it simply because a child did not know how to hold his breath underwater, float or raise an arm over their head and kick their feet. Learning to swim can be easier than learning how to ride a bike and it will save lives.”