Waterproofing Cayman

In response to the Oct. 30 article, “Call for lifeguards on Cayman beaches,” I would like to highlight a concern at a different level, that of the lack of priority given to saving lives through waterproofing the people of Cayman.

In my more than a decade of involvement in Cayman Swimming, it has long since been a passion of mine to look to bring attention to this and to look to shift our national priorities to both save lives and enhance the quality of life for our people.

I note that I am not writing to you in any formal capacity within Cayman Swimming, simply as an impassioned member of our community.

Not a year goes by without needless loss of life amongst the Cayman population related to lack of water safety and/or swimming skills. In a country as developed as ours, it is shocking to me to see this happen again and again!

Years ago the national curriculum was changed so that all students would be able to swim to a life skill level by the end of primary school. Great! However, are you surprised to hear that this has not been implemented yet?

Why not? Many detailed reasons can be given, but it all comes down to priorities.

I find it difficult to understand why we do not prioritize making such a basic life skill as swimming universal and mandatory in schools, yet as a people (and that includes our government and our private sector) we have not yet chosen to shift our priorities to place this anywhere near the top of our list.

Some example of things we could look to do to change this:

Teach more and more of our teachers and others in the community to become swim instructors.

Change the curriculum in schools to create sufficient time for swimming lessons for every child in every school in Cayman.

If we do those things, we will need more facilities.

Back in the mid-2000s, I led work by Cayman Swimming, in partnership with our government (and with their financial backing) to ready our country for building an aquatic centre right by the main school complex. This was designed in such a way as to create capacity to enable the vast majority of our school children nationwide (as well as our elders and other members of the community at different times) to have access to the physical facilities to make waterproofing Cayman a reality within a few short years.

What would it cost? Far less than most would think. Aside from a raw dollar number though, what price can we put on lives that can so easily be saved through teaching Cayman to swim? Add to that the value in enhanced life experience (as well as wellness and to future medical costs, etc.) from having a population that can swim?

Less than $10 million will build that Pool of Dreams, and with that the cost of resourcing it would then be surprisingly low.

Tom McCallum