Shane Gould Fiji Community Drowning Prevention Program
Tragically, for a country known around the world as a tropical island paradise, the second or third highest public health related cause of death in Fiji is accidental drowning. Each year on average more than 50 people die in swimming and boating related accidents, with this number sometimes as high as 90 per year. Since 2005 we have been working with Shane Gould and Milton Nelms (one of the world’s top swim technicians) to see what can be done in the way of improving aquatic skills in Fiji.
While a swimming pool is ideal for learning and improving swimming it is not essential. We provide very effective instructions in traditional natural/wild swimming locations, making suggestions for a culture of safety around rivers and oceans.
Lautoka Teachers College – Swim clinic
Students from Lautoka College assemble by the bay
In August 2005 the first swim clinics commenced with Shane and Milton conducting 23 clinics around Viti Levu, the main island of Fiji and on some islands in the Mamanuca group of islands.
The program has been designed for Fiji to generate the maximum results with limited resources that has the following key features:
- Recognising that Fijians are naturally athletic people who quickly copy techniques shown to them in the water;
- Recognising that there is not sufficient infrastructure of either swimming pools or the education system to facilitate a program that would work in developed countries;
- Working in collaboration with the Suva and Lautoka Teachers Colleges to incorporate our program into their curriculum to teach the trainee teachers the skills to pass onto their students;
- Encouraging tourist resorts throughout Fiji to take responsibility for the water safety at the villages from which they draw the bulk of their staff by:
- Establishing a village ‘safe swimming area’ with simple and inexpensive rescue and safety equipment, such as floats tied to a tree that can be thrown to a struggling swimmer and a bell to raise alarm;
- Ensuring that water sports staff attend training sessions conducted by Shane and Milt to become accredited and in turn to pass on their knowledge to the people of the local villages; and
- Encouraging general staff to attend swimming clinics conducted by Shane and Milt.
Milton at white board with Raiwaqua Primary School
In establishing the Shane Gould Swimming Project Incorporated we are very pleased to acknowledge the support of our founding patrons Mark and Sandra Johnson, Ken and Di Handley and our sponsors.