Swimming club a lifeline for Mdantsane kids

The new Mdantsane Swimming Club is teaching children how to swim in a bid to curb drownings.

The club has 60 children from Dalukhanyo, RH Godlo and Gcobani primary schools in NU6 and an additional 20 from the township under its wing.

They  have been learning swimming fundamentals since February, although the club officially launches only on Saturday. But it is not only in the water that the club is saving young lives, as the 60 children are also offered computer lessons.

Club co-ordinator Ronny Gubevu said although the township had no functional public pool, the children were so keen on taking lessons that an arrangement had been made with a local gym.

She began the programme to offer children activities that would keep them healthy, as well as reduce the number of drownings.

“Children drown in dams and at beaches because they are not used to swimming. And we are doing this to steer children away from social ills like teenage pregnancies and use of drugs.”

“We negotiated with Motion Fitness Gym and the children pay a fee of R75 that goes towards paying their swimming instructors,” Gubevu said. They train on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

So proficient have the children become in the water, they are even excelling in competition.

Swimmers between the ages of 10 and 14 won seven medals at the JD Memorial Gala at Ruth Belonsky Pool in Parkside in April.

“We want to produce Olympians. We intend to develop more children beyond the 60 who are with us now.

“MSC is a club which provides regular training to improve and promote fitness, improve swimming technique and socialise the children in an environment focused on skills development. But most of all, we are here to educate our members on the importance of water safety.”

Children in the programme are thrilled with their progress so far.

Likuwe Mtshekula, 5, who paddled with just a little assistance when the Dispatch visited the gym on Thursday, said swimming was her passion. “I want to win gold medals,” she said.

Anita Tokwe, 11, from NU11, said it took her five months to swim on her own. “I could  barely move when I started,” she said.

Zizibele Jafta, 14, wants to represent her country on the international stage like Springbok captain Siya Kolisi.

“I used to watch in awe as my cousins swam. I’m glad I can swim now,” she said.

Swimming instructor Sibusiso Hill said the confidence of the young swimmers had skyrocketed.

The gym’s general manager, Iviwe Mrwashu, said they had opened their doors to help the children of Mdantsane as some could not afford schools with swimming facilities.

“We decided to partner with the club to help combat the problems we have in Mdantsane.”

Sascoc president Gideon Sam said more communities needed to club together to make children water-safe from an early age.

The Dispatch reported last year that the Mdantsane pool would undergo a R12m revamp set to be completed by June 2020.

Parent Nomzamo Lasiti said having no pool in the township was a hindrance. A trip to the beach cost parents R40 in transport, she said.

“The need for a swimming pool here is high. We need the old one to be fixed so that our children can stop going to the wrong places. They drown in dams because they do not know how to swim,” Lasiti said.

ziyandaz@dispatch.co.za


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