Swim Vietnam Update 2021
Jane Wake introduced our guest speaker David Siddall. David, a Rotarian of some thirty-seven years, is a member of Australian Friends for Life, a small group of volunteers, who seek to provide practical and financial support for the charity Swim Vietnam.
In a country with heavy rainfall and so many rivers and rice paddies, child drowning is a major concern in Vietnam. However, it is estimated that the drowning rate can be reduced significantly simply by teaching children how to swim and survive in the water.
The mission of Swim Vietnam is to cooperate with local and national governments in training methods for swimming and water safety to reduce drowning rates. The plan is to train Vietnamese people as swim teachers and educators to bring swimming and water safety programs to their communities, quickly and sustainably as possible.
David outlined the history of Swim Vietnam. It was started by Joanne Stewart, an expat Scotswoman based in Singapore. While organising a triathlon in Vietnam in 2007, Joanne noticed a need for swimming training. In 2008, armed with the phone number of one person in the tourist department, Joanne set out to establish a swim program. The result is Swim Vietnam, a charity that trains swim teachers, builds pools, and provides free survival swimming and water safety lessons, giving Vietnamese children a skill that could save their lives.
Vietnam has 2000 km of coastline, 2000 rivers, extreme tides and a monsoon season. These factors contribute to 16 drownings per day; over half of whom are children. Swim and survive programs have reduced rates of drowning by 90%. The program is very low budget. Just $27.50 can teach a child to swim. Classroom water safety education is a priority along with swimming survival and teacher training.
The program has suffered a severe impact due to COVID-19 and has had to run to a bare minimum. Teachers, who were part time workers have been unable to work. As with all charities, the Swim Vietnam program suffered a significant reduction in financial support from donations.
Since its inception, Swim Vietnam has taught 28,884 children to swim, provided water safety education to 243,548 children, trained 4,650 swim teachers and built 15 swimming pools. Drownings have dropped from around thirty five a day to around sixteen per day.
David thanked the Rotary Club of Karrinyup for our financial support. Read more about the Swim Vietnam program.