Swimmers campaign for water safety

Cayman’s swimmers are beginning a safety campaign in an effort to reduce the number of deaths in the island’s waters.

The Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association has produced a video with water safety tips, and will be posting similar public service advice in bus shelters around the island.

Longer term, the association would like to see swimming and water safety basics become part of the school curriculum.

The campaign launched Wednesday to coincide with the Red Cross National Water Safety Day, a US-based promotional campaign.

“We are surrounded by water. You are never more than two or three miles from the coast,” said Steve Broadbelt, public relations officer for of CIASA.

“Still, there is a lack of education. Swimming is not part of the curriculum, so learning to swim is optional.”

He said swimming had become a compulsory part of the PE curriculum on Cayman Brac. Once new pool facilities, including a national aquatics centre and a YMCA pool, are built on Grand Cayman, he believes it will be easier for the larger island to follow suit.

“It would be a massive step forward for water safety on the island if we could get every child of primary school age to learn to swim and to learn some safety basics.”

The CIASA campaign is aimed mainly at the island’s residents. It includes numerous water safety tips.

Broadbelt said the most important advice was for people to never swim alone, and for boaters to wear life jackets.

“If people could remember just those two things, we would go a long way to making the islands safer.”

There were 12 confirmed water-related deaths last year, and three other fatalities in and around Cayman’s waters. So far in 2019, there have been five water-related deaths.

Broadbelt said the campaign hoped to have an impact in reducing that number.

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