Swimming skills for life surface at Phuket’s Thanyapura

PHUKET: Water is integral to the Phuket lifestyle – to the island way of life. Yet, surprisingly, many locals born and raised in this tropical paradise risk growing up without ever learning how to swim.

Avoidable, tragic drownings are an all-too-common reminder and result of this deplorable lack of swimming knowledge and skills. It’s easy for us to take our own childhood swimming lessons for granted, which leads many to overlook the fact that many local youths simply don’t have the same access to resources and opportunities that we may have had to learn the basic recreational, if not essential survival, skill of swimming – one that really ought to be declared a human birth right.

Looking to make a difference, the owner of one local private school has joined up with Thanyapura in a pilot CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiative to facilitate swimming lessons for 200 local kindergärtners.

Speaking to the Gazette about the new program, Thalang Wittaya School owner and head mistress Kiranee Narabal said: “We are providing this opportunity for all of our K2 and K3 [4-6 year olds] students, or six classes of about 30 pupils each, who will get swimming lessons for one hour a week over the duration of two months,” she said.

Ms Kiranee went on to reveal how the idea for the program, which began early November, came about.

“As a member of Thanyapura, I’ve known about their wonderful facilities for some time and have been thinking about how we could collaborate. So I got to talking with head swim coach Randy Simon about opportunities for a local private school such as my own, where space and facilities are limited, and proposed the idea of providing regular swimming lessons for our kindergärtners.”

Ms Kiranee’s “win-win” proposal was simple: her school would provide eager, local children, and with its world-class facilities, lifeguards and coaches, Thanyapura would facilitate the swimming lessons – all at a minimal cost.

“The parents are all pleased to pay a nominal fee to cover the transport costs but we aren’t making anything extra,” she noted.

Ms Kiranee emphasized that the program’s objective is not only for her children to learn how to swim for the sake of recreation, but also to ensure that the kids acquire an important survival skill.

“As Phuketians, we should all have the basic knowledge and skill [of swimming]. It is my hope to raise the standard of our children and school by giving my pupils more enriching opportunities like this,” she said.

Thanyapura head swimming coach Randy Simon reiterated the program’s prime objective.

“First and foremost, our aim is to ensure that the kids feel comfortable and safe around the water – including not only being able to swim themselves, but being able to spot dangerous situations and being able to get help if they see someone that is in trouble,” he said.

The pilot program is perfectly matched with Thanyapura’s CSR philosophy to not only provide holistic sporting and health – mental and physical – knowledge and opportunities for the local community, but also to seek out and foster the development and potential of the local talent pool.

Asked about his impressions of the program so far, Thanyapura’s head swimming coach Randy Simon insisted that it’s not only the kids benefiting.

“Working with the kids has been fantastic for us. They’re really excited to be here and to have the opportunity to learn how to swim. Most of them take to the water quite well, and this is the perfect age for them.

“They’re always anxious to get in the pool and at the end they don’t want to get back out of the water… Just to see them smile and enjoy themselves makes it an exciting and worthwhile experience for all of the coaching staff.”

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— Steven Layne

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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